After a lackluster first season on Lifetime, the network is bringing back season seven of “Project Runway” next month featuring Atlantan Anthony L. Williams as one of the designers.
The Birmingham native who moved to Atlanta a couple of years ago will join the cast starting January 14. Most of the show, of course, has been taped already.
The good news is the show is back in New York City, enabling judges Michael Kors and Nina Garcia more airtime. (They were frequently absent when the show taped in 2008 in Los Angeles.).
Season six, the first on Lifetime, didn’t do too badly in the ratings, averaging more than 3 million viewers a week. But fans complained the cast was boring, the fashions uninspired and the celebrity guest judges less than enthralling.
Lifetime got Williams on the phone with me Wednesday. He is definitely a savvy character. I’ll write a bit more once I get a screener of the first episode.
Williams graduated from the University of Alabama in 2007 and moved to Atlanta, where he worked at Neiman Marcus at Lenox Square Mall in sales and doing image consulting.
He has never spoken to Mychael Knight, who made the finals during season three of “Project Runway,” but has seen him at the fabric store, as well as Nieman Marcus. “You can imagine, at Nieman Marcus, I was more concerned with hitting sales goals than speaking to local celebrities,” he said.
Williams gave the standard line about mostly competing with himself, not the others and to “stay true to myself and grow as a person.” He calls “Runway” a “very glamorous boot camp.”
He wouldn’t say if he gets sassy with the judges. “You’ll have to tune in,” he said. “I’m an interesting person who happens to be talented on and off the show… You learn to love the camera and the men behind the camera. I was very real during my private interviews.”
Williams noted that “if men can be Southern belles, I am one!”
His design aesthetic: “sophisticated, polished, well fit.”
If he wins: “I don’t want to promote myself. I want to promote my craft.” He’d love to do a line of evening gowns. And help people who are less fortunate. (Yes, you can tell this guy has watched a lot of reality TV and has all the cliches down!)
I noted he has a very common name but he has no plans to change it. “I don’t want to insult the greatness that is my mom. She saw me fit to call me Anthony. She once told me, ‘If I thought I knew how special you’d be, I’d have named you something else!’ ”
Check out his work at www.anthonylwilliams.com.
The 16 contestants will be vying for the following prizes:
As part of the winner’s prize package, the victorious designer will receive an editorial feature in Marie Claire magazine, the opportunity to sell their line on Bluefly.com, a $50,000 technology suite by HP and Intel to create, design and run their business, and a cash prize of $100,000 from L’Oréal Paris to launch their own fashion line.