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The Interview

A.J. Thouvenot

by Jerry Nunn
The eighth season of Project Runway is underway with more designers, more time and more “making it work!” A.J. Thouvenot is one of the new contestants and recently spoke to

JN (Jerry Nunn): Hi, AJ.

AT (A.J. Thouvenot): Hey, how are you doing?

JN: Very good. So, you’re from St. Louis, right?

AT: I’m really from St. Charles and I live in St. Louis now.

JN: Do you think you’ll stay there or do you think you’ll move to the “big city” or something?

AT: I don’t know yet. I went through a crazy experience and I’m just taking things one-step at a time. So, I’m kind of evaluating because I’m not sure what’s next for me.

JN: What made you audition in the first place?

AT: It’s just one of those thing where I’ve been designing and I work with my partner Ryan. We work on our business designing clothes and doing shows and I felt like we just needed an extra boost. It was kind of one of those things where I saw it online and why the hell not? The worst thing that can happen is that they can say no and the second worst thing they would yes. So, I kind of just thought I would give it a shot.

JN: So, TrashBiscuit is your designs? It’s your own business?

AT: Yes. Those are the designs I co-design with my partner Ryan with.

JN: So, he’s a designer too?

AT: Yes, we work together.

JN: Where did you guys meet?

AT: We actually met an electronic music event. He was there, we hit off and we’ve been inseparable ever since.

JN: How long have you been together?

AT: Around three years.

JN: As far as the show, how is this season different from past seasons?

AT: There are a lot of younger designers this time around. A lot of people in their 20’s who I feel like are all over the board. Not all commercial designers and not all avant-garde. Everyone really has there own strong point-of-view this time, which I think is going to make the show really interesting.

JN: I just watched the first episode last night. It’s a lot more designers and more time.

AT: Yeah, I haven’t even seen it yet I’m jealous.

JN: You’ll get your copy I’m sure and you’ll have a big party. So, you have a fashion dungeon that I saw on your video.

AT: Yes, I have a fashion dungeon. That’s the worst part about the space. When it rains a lot, you have to put everything up on stilts and barricade the water.

JN: Oh no.

AT: It’s exciting. I like to consider it an adventure.

JN: You might have to bump it up a notch now that you’re on national TV.

AT: You know I think I might be able to fix that problem. I hope so.

JN: Some of your designs seem kind of club kid. Is that how you kind of got started? You did some designs for drag queens?

AT: Yeah, my background is that I started making stuff not knowing what I was doing with not formal training. I was doing some stitching on a machine that I didn’t really know how to use. I was hand sewing stuff for myself and for drag queens. Around 17 and 18 I just liked the fact that you can express yourself and be who you wanted to be and everyone was kind okay with it. So, that’s definitely something that still inspires my designs. There’s always some fun element in anything that I do.

JN: Good. They seem bright, colorful and fun.

AT: Yes, I usually do a lot of bright colors and I will also do a little more serious rock-and-roll sometimes, but I like a lot of color, I like a lot of fun.

JN: Music is kind of an inspiration to you. You work while listening to

pop music?

AT: I love pop music. I think it’s everyone’s guiltiest pleasure and they get into it. Everyone likes to drive with the car top down with a great song playing. Or when you’re going out with your friends, you’re getting ready and there’s that song that comes on and everyone gets really excited. I just love that and the energy from that. I love pop music and I also love pop stars. They just seem like wonder women who are just so glamorous and beautiful. That’s just so cool to me.

JN: Have you met Katy Perry before? I heard you’re a big fan of hers.

AT: I have never met Katy Perry. I’ve seen her once at Warp Tour when they came years ago. Right when she first started coming out. As soon as she threw glitter on the cloud I just knew she was going to fabulous. Anyone who can rock blue hair like that since the cartoon Jem is cool.

JN: I actually got to meet her and hang out with her a little bit. She’s really funny. She has a good sense of humor. You have to meet her sometime.

AT: I hope I get to. I would love to meet Katy. She has the cup cake bra and all of that crazy stuff. I would die.

JN: Yeah the new album is really good. So, tomorrow I’m talking to Tim Gunn. How was your experience with him?

AT: Tim Gunn is a fantastic guy. He’s someone who has a lot of experience. The best thing about him is that he is able to put his personal taste aside and look at what you as a designer are trying to achieve. Nurture what’s good in what you are trying to achieve and give you advice on what things you need to leave behind to make it better. He has a way of looking outside of what he likes and what he thinks people should wear. He sees the fashion industry as multi-faceted and that’s what makes him great.

JN: That’s an interesting point because he’s not a judge. He’s a mentor on the show. You’re not suppose to do exactly what he likes. It’s fine that Michael Koors is going to sit there and judge everything. It’s good that Tim removes himself from that.

AT: Yeah, he just knows a lot about fashion. He’s a really nice guy.

JN: What do you hope to achieve once the show is over? Long term goals and things like that?

AT: What I really wanted to achieve by going to the show is getting out there what I do and show people my skills. For me, my goal, I guess, is just to move forward within the fashion industry and own my business. I’m still at a point in my career where I am still very young so gaining more business knowledge is something I’m interested in. I’m kind of want to wait to see what’s going to come my way, you know? It’s just those times in life where it’s hard to plan.

JN: Definitely, just from the show you can do benefits and things like that.

AT: Yeah, that’s one of those things being gay and being part of the gay community can and be a public figure I can just help make things better. I just hope I can do those kinds of things.

JN: Well, I hope you come to Chicago. Designers come here all the time, Chris March is working Macy’s benefit this week.

AT: Sounds great!

JN: Thanks for your time today and good luck with the show.

AT: Thank you so much, it was good to talk to you.

Watch A.J. and the gang compete on Project Runway Thursdays on the Lifetime Channel.
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