Project Runway's Elena: 'It Was a Nightmare'
September 28, 2012
TheInsider.com caught up with tough girl Elena Slivnyak after getting eliminated from Project Runway. The Ukranian-born talked about the infamous crying baby challenge, being difficult and her fabulous pink lipstick!
TheInsider.com: How are you feeling now about leaving right before the last challenge?
Elena Slivnyak: Obviously I was very disappointed. The next challenge I feel like I would have won - it was an avant-garde challenge. It was very disappointing to leave for a baby challenge and not have the chance to do what I normally do; which is avant-garde. But I was a little bit expecting [to be kicked off] from how the season was going, so I have no regrets.
TheInsider.com: How did you feel about the baby challenge?
Elena: I didn't mind the baby challenge. I thought it was something different. I was really excited about it until we came in the workroom and saw the dolls; then I knew my life was going to be hell from that point. But, I really liked the challenge. I don’t have any negative things to say about it.
TheInsider.com: So how difficult was it taking care of those doll babies?
Elena: Oh my God, it was a nightmare. It was a real nightmare. Having to do what we normally do is already a nightmare -- having such short amounts of time to complete these projects and then on top of that, we had to take care of those babies. It was a complete nightmare.
TheInsider.com: Did you guys think that Fabio [Costa] was being creepy with the baby?
Elena: No, I think he took it to an extreme level kind of, but whatever, kudos to him for not going off the deep end like some of the rest of us.
TheInsider.com: There was a lot of talk about your jacket. Heidi [Klum] really liked it and the mom said specifically she wanted a jacket. How do you feel about what you produced?
Elena: I feel like I produced something good. I feel it was in the guidelines of what Heidi was looking for. It looked like it belonged in her Truly Scrumptious Collection. I liked the way it looked. The mom was so pleased with it -- she loved it. I was a little bit shocked that I was eliminated for this because I feel there were some things on the runway that didn't even look like it belonged in the Truly Scrumptious Collection. I feel like I had it coming. I haven’t won a challenge so obviously they would get rid of someone who hasn’t. It was kind of a bummer.
TheInsider.com: You're currently in the lead for being fan favorite. How do you feel about that?
Elena: It’s amazing. I didn’t expect that. I can’t say anything about it, but it's amazing, it's crazy - I really appreciate that. It makes me feel better about what I’ve done all season.
TheInsider.com: You can be a force to be reckoned with in the workroom, but clearly the fans are loving it.
Elena: Well, I'm a person who speaks my mind. Sometimes it comes out very direct and maybe not…I don't really think about the things I say sometimes; it just comes where I feel you’ll know I’m not going to go talk behind your back and I’m going to let you know how it is. I feel like a lot of people appreciate that.
TheInsider.com: Can you talk a little about not getting along with people on the show?
Elena: It was mainly the team challenges. I think there were more team challenges this season than there ever was. It was a little bit shocking. What I was upset about most was that I wasn’t able to clearly show my aesthetic all the time because of the team challenges. It was stressful for everyone. I’m not proud of some moments; I could have handled it a lot better, but that's how I felt then and that’s what came out. I apologized to whoever I thought deserved an apology.
TheInsider.com: Is there a specific circumstance you wish you handled yourself differently?
Elena: I don’t regret anything I really did because that’s the way I felt at that moment. I would have probably… during the team challenges, I could have been more understanding sometimes. But, anything else I don’t feel I regret.
TheInsider.com: I interviewed Raul Osorio, who blew up at you when he got eliminated. He said he called to apologize. Were you surprised he apologized?
Elena: I was surprised, but in a good way. We talked and we both came to a decision that it was just the circumstances. I apologized as well because I wasn’t too nice to him either and we actually hung out afterwards. No hard feelings.
TheInsider.com: I know you weren’t always pleased with how you were handling stress on the show. What was it that was so hard?
Elena: Normally, I’m a very anxious and high stressed person. When it comes to my job, my craft -- I take it to another level. I’m so passionate about what I do that things bother me sometimes. Sometimes I flare up. I’m a hot head sometimes and sometimes I’m not. The stress of being there and just having this mental and physical [strain] ….mentally and physically it was unbearable. On top of that … the team challenges … it was impossible. That added a lot to 'my already anxious' state-of-mind.
TheInsider.com: What do you think was the hardest part for you?
Elena: I think the hardest part was changing [my aesthetic]; to narrow it down to be able to get done in the ten hours or however long we got. It usually takes me a longer time than that to develop all of my designs; I do testing and things like that so I think that was the hardest part for me. The time factor was the hardest part for me.
TheInsider.com: You are originally from Ukraine. When did you come here? In the roots challenge you got very emotional about your past there. What was it that made you so emotional in that episode?
Elena: I have been here since I was ten-years-old, so I consider myself an American. I have so much family out there and I go out there as much as I can. It’s a very inspiring country. I’m deeply connected to my roots there and it’s what made me who I am. All the negative stuff that was portrayed on the show and about Ukraine, I regret that and I really regret saying some things about it because it’s not how the people there are. [Ukrainian people] are the most kind, gentle, and strong people that fight through a lot of hardships in life. I think that’s what made me who I am. My parents struggled to get [us] here to give [me and my sister] a better future. Where I’m from, really created the person I turned in to.
TheInsider.com: Everyone is talking about your pink lipstick. What is it?!
Elena: It’s actually from the dollar store. I bought like ten of them. I was like, 'Oh my God, this color is amazing.' It’s like a cheap brand; I don’t even think it has a name on the outside of it.
TheInsider.com: Obviously the baby challenge and the Rockette challenge weren’t your favorites. What would have been your dream challenge?
Elena: Dream challenge is the next [episode] – the avant garde [challenge]. I was so bummed when I heard that was the next one. I feel like I would have killed it. That would have been one of my favorites and I’m bummed that I didn’t get that far to be able to participate in that, but oh well.
TheInsider.com: Who are you rooting for?
Elena: I am rooting for Sonjia [Williams] and Melissa [Fleis]. I think out of all the designers left, they are the strongest. I really hope one of them or both of them make it.