If you’re anything like me, you’re always eager to see what Val is going to wear next on VH1′s ‘Single Ladies’. So who’s the mysterious force behind Val’s (Stacey Dash) amazingly awesome wardrobe? Look no further – because the secret is out! It’s no other than ‘Project Runway’ alum, Anthony L. Williams. The NYLA Report recently caught up with him as he discussed life after ‘Project Runway’, working with Stacey Dash, how to achieve Val’s look on budget and his thoughts on season two.
Asia: I just wanted to thank you for taking time to speak with The NYLA Report, especially with all of this buzz you’ve been receiving surrounding the show. So Anthony, how are you?
I’m really, really well. I’m very happy these days.
So, let’s rewind a bit. Last time we saw you, you were making it work (no pun intended) on ‘Project Runway’. So first off, tell me how life has been since the show ended?
Well since ‘Project Runway’ ended, it’s been one interesting event after the other. I travel as one of the fashion directors for Macys. It gives me an idea of what middle America looks like, which is probably Project Runway’s biggest audience. So many people always tell me how they are inspired by my story. It has also allowed me to hear the voice of the people. People had the opportunity to hear my voice, but I love to hear what people have to say.
So, you’re styling the very beautiful Stacey Dash (Val) for the VH1 series, ‘Single Ladies’. How was it like working with her?
I think we live in a time when the bar has been lowered for professionalism. If a man is professional, he’s all this…on top of his game, but when a woman is professional, she’s considered a bitch and I think Stacey is very professional and if nothing else, she’s a great educator. In all reality, I never styled anyone in my whole entire life, but working with her, she gave me DVD’s to watch, along with another director and they taught me the ropes. They knew I had the eye, but it’s not enough to have the eye when you work on television. You need someone to teach you what you need and I think that speaks volumes about her [Stacey]. Not only was she concerned with my success, but she taught me everything I needed to know to make her look absolutely fabulous.
WOW! You mean to tell me this is your first time styling – like ever?
Oh my God, I thought you were doing this for years [laughs].
No, I haven’t been doing this for years. She was the first person. I worked on the pilot. I’m not sure if you remember the pilot when she had on that black dress she wore to her party. And do you remember when Quinn came back and she had sex with him with the dress with the puff’s on the shoulders? I designed both of those pieces. Not only do I dress Stacey Dash, but I custom make pieces for her as well.
I gotta admit, everyone is obsessed with Val’s wardrobe on the show (myself, included). Can you name drop some of the designers you put her in?
First of all, Anthony L. Williams [laughs], some Chanel–but mostly accessories–some Louboutins, however I put her in vintage Norma Kamali, which I absolutely loved. I shop at Neiman [Marcus] for her a lot, even though I end up cutting it up. Tons of thrift stores. I try to stay away from Herve Leger. I’m kinda over that. I mean, how many bandage dresses can we see in one year? [laughs]. We always keep her in Seven jeans. I keep myself in Seven years because they fit well.
Is there a way to achieve Val’s look on a budget?
Yes, I would invest in the key pieces and fill in with thrift stores, H&M and all of those other places. I think you should invest in jeans, especially if you wear them every day or every other day. They will take a bit of wear and tear. If you invest in a great pair of demin, they will last for a long time. Also, invest in clothes that fit. If it doesn’t fit, take it out of your closet. Invest in things that matter. Invest in your shoes and bags. I wouldn’t stress about the other stuff. I hate when people spend $200 on a t-shirt. That’s stupid.
My favorite outfit by far was the pink sequined long-sleeved dress with the black silk organza apron. What is your favorite outfit to date?
So far, my favorite look was that white Thierry Mugler dress for the brunch scene. I went to Stefan’s in Atlanta, which is a vintage store. I walked to the back of the store and saw this white dress hanging and I grabbed it, took it to Stacey Dash’s suite. I did all of the alterations the night before. Thank God for my ‘Project Runway’ experience [laughs] and it worked the next day.
That’s amazing! Everyone was hitting me up on Twitter inquiring about that dress. I know most of her outfits are thrifted or custom made just for Stacey, so it’s difficult to find these pieces in stores.
I will be honest. The trick to all of this madness is to have an amazing seamstress. Well, that pink sequined dress that you love – I got it from the dress collection department at Neiman [Marcus]. We had it cut. It was a bit long and loose. Although Stacey appears to be a size 2 or 4 on TV, she’s really a double zero. And in the script, the writer wanted a couture apron. I had no clue what was a couture apron, but I decided it had to be silk. So I grabbed some silk satin and some silk organza and I made her an apron to go with the pink dress.
You are soooo talented. You’re like my new hero.
Oh..well thank you, but you can call me shero [laughs].
Single Ladies just recently picked up a second season. Is it safe to say you’ll be back for another season and if so, will you style the other two ladies – Keisha (Lisa Raye MCoy) and April (Charity Shea)?
That’s a very interesting question. I’ve been very off-the-cuff with you so far, however, I need to put on my political correctness hat at this moment [laughs]. Just because ‘Single Ladies’ was picked up for a second season, doesn’t mean I’ll be invited back. Even though I style Stacey, I’m not the costume designer of the show. I would love to go forward and continue to work with Stacey, but Lisa Raye has her own stylist. I would love to dress all of the women. From spending time on the set, it has allowed me to zero in on their personalities. I feel like they need to work in harmony. One can’t be more fabulous than the other. I would love the opportunity, but just because they picked up a second season doesn’t guarantee they will bring me back. We’ll just keep our fingers crossed and I just hope that the work I done will speak for me.
Besides styling, what other projects are you working on? I know you mentioned you were doing some work with Macys earlier.
No, but I sent out my reel to so many people. I would love to be this lifestyle guru that encompasses fashion, etiquette, finances – I would love to have my own show. Prior to ‘Single Ladies’, that’s what I was working on. I spent a little time in New York filming my reel and it turned out beautiful. But between traveling for Macys and ‘Single Ladies’, I haven’t had much time for anything. For ‘Single Ladies’, you have to devote three months for that. Although I wasn’t required to come to set, to guarantee my aesthetic and that she [Stacey Dash] should would look the way I wanted her to look, I would come to set daily. If her skirt needed to be adjusted, I wanted to be the person to adjust it. They call it a Bible. We create looks on what her hair and makeup should look like, suggestions for what bags to carry, which hand the bags should be carried on, where to place bangles – all of those things. It’s very specific and detailed. Being on the set daily doesn’t leave much time to do anything else at all.
With all of your success from ‘Project Runway’ and now ‘Single Ladies’, what’s the best advice to break into the fashion industry?
My best advice to break into the fashion industry–hunny, to break into any industry–is to make it first, then serve it. I think we get so excited. We think that everything has to be microwaved and it has to come fast and furious. I think we need to take a little more time to make it, and then serve it — and what that means, really think about what you wanna do. Don’t look at the lives of others to determine what you want to do with your life. You need to take time to figure out what you want to do, really think about it, write the vision, then put it out into the universe.
Thanks so much, Anthony! I had way to much fun speaking with you today. Best wishes to you in everything that you do.
Thank you, hunny! It was my pleasure.