<i>Project Runway</i>'s Ricky Lizalde Speaks Out

He may have been auf'd just before the Fashion Week finale, but Project Runway's Ricky Lizalde isn't going quietly. The Latino designer, whose lingerie-inspired looks and penchant for crocodile tears made him stand out on the show, talks to People en Español about his inspirations, the one Latina he dreams of designing for, and what really happens on the runway.

On whether his elimination after the wrestling challenge was fair: It had nothing to do with fashion. I thought what a poor
choice of challenges to have right before they decide who’s going to fashion
week. It should have been more related to fashion than, you know, a joke. If it
was another wrestler who was judging it, then I could swallow what they said,
but come on, those wrestlers, what do they wear? They get some bathing suits and
some panty hose and bedazzle them. For me it was like, oh whatever.

On the influence of his Latino upbringing on his work: Who I am as a designer has a lot to do with the Chicano in me. I grew up with my
sisters – a couple of my sisters are cholas. All of that is going to play a part in
my life. I love bright colors; I love prints, things that are emotional for me.
If I approach something and it grabs me right away and says something to me
emotionally, I run with that. Being Latino, you grow up with the Virgin Mary and
Jesus and all these people in framed pictures as if they were your family. The
colors, the paintings and all that energy definitely played a part in growing up
and my craft.

On which Latina celeb he would most like to design for: Salma Hayek. I’ve loved her since she first came on the scene. I think she’s
gorgeous and a very intelligent woman. I respect what she does for my people
(laughs). She came with a lot of obstacles to Hollywood so to speak, and look
where she’s at, and with a thick accent. You gotta love her more for that.

On his post-Runway life: It’s strange. The weirdest experience I’ve had yet was a Danny DeVito
experience. I was at the airport and he saw me and said, ‘I really liked you on
the show.’ He ended up asking me for my autograph for his daughter. I was like
‘I can’t believe this.’ It’s like wow, you go from being anonymous to everyone
knowing you. It’s weird.

On the emotional experience of being on reality TV: Well, you’re talking to the guy that cried every freaking episode (laughs). It
just really turns up parts of your personality. Instead of it being at a 4 or a
5, it’s at a 10. And for the people who aren’t so happy about how they were
portrayed, they need to check themselves. I knew that being on TV was going to
be another way for the world to see who I am and what I represent as a Latino. I
really felt like I had a sense of responsibility to Latinos everywhere, just to
say we’re out here, I’m creative, I’m gay, and accept it. I’m proud of it. To me
it was that kind of a journey, and that’s what made it so emotional.