Daniel Vosovic on His Namesake Line, Project Runway, and Tea With Tim Gunn

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Christian Siriano isn't the only Project Runway success story. Surely you remember season-two finalist Daniel Vosovic. After the show, he worked as a design assistant and took on a number of smaller projects. He wrote a book called Fashion Inside Out and designed uniforms for NYLO Hotels. But now he's hard at work on his namesake line, which he'll show for the first time in February 2010. He hasn't officially announced it, but when we rang him up he told us all about it, anyway.

How did the line come about?
It’s always been the intention. It’s just a matter of when. So since most people know me from Project Runway and whatnot, I had to make a choice after all of that — what do I do? Do I jump into doing a line and starting the company and just hope for the best? Or do I take a step back and go back to assisting and do what I feel would be the right path?

Which is exactly what you did.
I have a management team that I’ve been working with for four years now. This past December we finally had our end-of-the-year sit-down. They had said, "What do you think you want to do? Do you want to go back to assisting?" So they gave me a dollar amount and a time frame for if I want to launch this year.

What do you envision for your debut season?
It’s going to be very edited. I assume I’ll probably just have a presentation for the first season or two, just to see how the industry is going to bounce back [from the economic downturn]. Right now I’m doing all costing and figuring out the overhead and doing interviews for new employees. We're doing things like establishing the fit — what does the Daniel Vosovic pant look like? We’re looking for loft spaces in Soho and Chelsea, primarily.

Not the garment district?
I want to be close to the garment district but not in it. It’s not the most creatively inductive place. But I'm producing everything domestically, so I need to be somewhat close to it.

How would you describe the line, aesthetically?
More hip, downtown. Jil Sander, Narciso Rodriguez. Very clean lines. My focus is jackets and coats — I love a good tailored piece, I love what it does for a woman’s body. A hint of athleticism. I don’t do a lot of frills.

And what about prices?
We’re aiming for the young-designer, contemporary price point. Like Alexander Wang, Philip Lim.

How are you managing to launch a new line in this economy?
My management team is established — they’ve been there, done that. I trust them implicitly and I know that we wouldn’t jump into something just needlessly. So that’s the thing — to have people who have gone through similar things before.

Did you get the management team as a result of Project Runway?
It originally started with a recommendation from a family friend after Project Runway. My lawyer and my accountant and my financial adviser all work as one unit now under my label.

Are you hoping to distance yourself from Project Runway so people know you for you and not just as the Project Runway guy?
I think that’ll eventually happen through the years. If someone doesn’t like it they can bitch and complain all they want, but then they’ll just be the bitchy, complaining Project Runway guy. Project Runway for me was a great starting point that really brought my stuff to the forefront, and now it’s on to the next thing.

Did you worry that your Project Runway fame would be fleeting?
A really established designer said a few months after the show finished, "Daniel, if you believe the good press, you have to believe the bad as well." And that means if you sit here and think, "All these people think I’m great and love what I’m doing," you have to believe all the other people who say, "You’re shit; this kid has no talent." So you have to always think about the next thing and the next thing, because that’s what people want. I admit there is that "Oh shit" moment. But you can use it and go on to the next project

What do you think of Christian Siriano’s success?
I think aside from Christian, some of the other designers are doing really great jobs — there is this big misconception [that he's the only Project Runway success story]. I think he’s a very, very hard worker, and I hope all of that shows, because he’s spending hours and hours and hours in that workroom. Even winning $100,000 from the show is not a lot of money after taxes, after samples, you have one employee — their salary alone. I think it’s great that Christian is continuing to push, push, push. And then there's [season-two winner] Chloe Dao, who doesn’t want to be the next big whatever, but she’s still happy with where she is. Her business is still going strong.

Do you keep in touch with anyone from the show, like Tim Gunn or Heidi Klum?
Oh yeah, Tim’s been there throughout the years. We sit down about once every six months. He’s so busy now. I remember going to visit him at Parsons and his little office at the school — he had a little tea set and we’d sit down to tea. And now it’s like I have to schedule and he has a half hour and he has to move, move, move.