Elisa Jimenez of ‘Project Runway’ Talks About Her Fashion Week Show, ‘High-end Garanimals’ and Spit Marks


New Age–y designer Elisa Jimenez was eliminated from this season's Project Runway after Heidi Klum and Nina Garcia gagged when she mentioned that she likes to mark her clothes with spit, not fabric pencil. Intrigued, we showed up to Jimenez's off-site show at Touch Sunday morning to find placed on each chair a playing card and a blown-up surgical glove with "bless" scrawled on it, backwards.

The high-school drama-class feeling didn't stop with the mirror-writing. As the models—mostly girls and teens who were friends of Jimenez—marched, slithered, and danced around the room, you could almost imagine the stage direction: "You're a tiger, a tiger! Get on all fours and slink around!" After the show—which also featured a trilling soprano, running commentary from Jimenez and stretchy, forgiving fabrics with tattered edges and knotted details that she described as "like high-end Garanimals"— we caught up with the designer to talk about spit marks and doing costume design for High School Musical 3.

So do you plan on watching Project Runway when it's done? I plan on watching the show at the very end of the season. Friends have been videotaping it for me, and I'm going to sit down with pizza and popcorn and M&Ms and watch it like TV. And then it won't be mine; it'll be something different.

Tell me about the spit marks. It's a blessing. Blessing marks are important. And if you have an issue, research dry-cleaning and we can have an intelligent conversation. Because if you know what dry-cleaning does to your body and does to the planet, I think that's far more disgusting than three point marks on a piece of fabric, personally.

How has your process changed since being on the show? I learned the sewing machine from Kit and Victorya, like not to be afraid of it. I decided after my first challenge—when I was almost eliminated—that I'm not going to do what I know how to do already. I'm going to learn these skills that these people think are somehow better than mine. And they were like, don't you think that's a little dangerous, in terms of strategy? The biggest thing that alienated me from everyone was that I don't believe in competing. My whole thing is that winning doesn't always look like winning.

What are you doing now? Caroline Marx, a costume designer who's worked with me on several films, called me up two weeks ago and said, "The next movie we're doing is High School Musical 3." We've worked on all these different projects: something with Chloë Sevigny, something with James King. I get flown in, and I do my spit marks, which are not vomiting, or hawking loogies on people. —Maridel Reyes