We’ve all seen how the Project Runway story usually plays out, and it ain’t always pretty: With the exception of Season 4 winner Christian Siriano, the majority of contestants have quietly faded into fashion obscurity, occasionally emerging for another shot at the win (so to speak) on All Stars.
But such has not been the case for Season 2 runner-up and fan fav Daniel Vosovic. Sure, he’s been quiet alright since his untimely aufing–quietly plotting his return to the fashion scene as a fabulous, legitimate designer and businessman! Last year, Vosovic was one of the lucky fledgling designers chosen for the CFDA Fashion Incubator, where he was assigned mentors to help foster his talent and grow a sustainable brand–where he recently completed his first quarter of the two-year program.
And so far, so good: With celebrity endorsements from perennial best dressed lister Emma Stone and Downton Abbey actress Elizabeth McGovern, and 23 international stores now carrying his eponymous New York-based line, it feels safe to say that 2013 just might be the year of Daniel Vosovic. We chatted with the unbelievably pleasant and optimistic 31-year-old (who really is as likable as he seemed on TV) about making it as a young designer in the reality of a post-reality show world.
Fashionista: Hi! So obviously I have to start off by asking you about Project Runway… Can you walk us through your decision to appear on the show?
DV: Absolutely. Well I was on the show about 7-and-a-half years ago, right after I graduated from FIT. I was 24 years old, I was very, very naïve. It was essentially my first job. And it was a huge opportunity for me because, like all of my peers, we were all looking to jump into the grind. So when I got onto the show, it was about, well, let’s make the most of it. I didn’t have a job to leave, I didn’t have a name in the industry yet, so to me, I really had nothing to lose.
Fashionista: What do you think about other designers, like Christian Siriano, who seem to want to really downplay their affiliation with Project Runway after their seasons?
DV: I think anyone who goes on a show like that or does anything as high profile needs to understand that it’s not the final destination–being on the show will not make your career. It certainly will give you press and exposure, but it doesn’t give you a business. So for all of us who have legitimate businesses since the show, we recognize that it’s an amazing opportunity to get to have our own line at such a young age and all of those things, but because fashion moves so fast [and we were on the show a few years ago] it’s no longer as relevant. Like, yeah, it happened, but if I’m still using that to open doors, that’s a problem. So in regards to what other contestants are doing, I feel like there’s been so many other stepping stones along the way that I can understand the hesitation to keep intro-ing with [Project Runway].
Fashionista: Did you experience any post-season fame depression?
DV: At that time, being 24, and having this sort of whirlwind six months and all the things that came with it, if I didn’t step up right away and have a plan, I’m sure I would’ve felt very lost and all of the negativity that comes with that. I had a really great group of mentors, a really solid family, and I had to make a decision fast: Do I grab onto this shooting star of fame and try riding this into a legitimate long-standing career? I didn’t have the experience to run a company. So when I decided to step back from all of that, I said, you know what, it was a great sort of 15 minutes of TV fame, but my 15 minutes as a designer? I’m in the first second of that. I haven’t even started my first millisecond of my career’s 15 minutes. So I decided to step back and choose a different route from other contestants. I went back into the grind, I worked as an assistant designer, I worked as creative directors, I picked up these small companies, and that’s really where my focus was: Choosing to step back from all that at a time, so that I could build my foundation stronger and for the long term.
Fashionista: You were recently accepted into the CFDA Incubator Program. Deets please.