T Lo Interviews ‘Bad Mommy’ Laura Bennett
Before the madness of Season 4 sweeps us away, we wanted to check in with the best thing about Season 3, the gal whose fabulosity was the sole inspiration for this blog, and someone who we can rightfully call a good friend to us, the fabulously glamorous Laura Bennett. The night before we went to the runway show for S4 contestants, we hung out at Chez Bennett-Shelton and sat her down for an interview. There is no image that sums Laura up better than this: perched on a kitchen stool in a silver sequined cocktail dress with a plunging neckline, helping Truman with his homework, making sure we were plied with food and drink, nursing Finn and answering our questions – all at the same time. She’s everything you think she is plus so much more.
Let’s talk about your aesthetic. We hear so many times how your work is not innovative but at the same time, so many people love your clothes.
I admit it. My designs are not mind blowing, innovative, never-seen-before, going-down-in-the-history-books. But that being said, I feel that there is a place for elegant, woman-friendly clothing in this industry. Grown women relate to me and I relate to them.
Tell us about your new line for QVC, Little Black Dress? What’s the concept behind it?
Everybody knows what ‘little black dress’ means. Simple, elegant, appropriate. The idea of the collection was to provide clothes that add a little glamour every day, clothing that makes it easy.
I love the convenience of shopping off the Internet and I feel that TV shopping provides the same experience. Besides, you can reach so many women and most of my designs are simple visually but rich in detailing. It’s a good venue to point out all the details and features.
You mentioned to us your concerns with costs and clothes being manufactured in China, the human right issues…
The garment industry is so price sensitive. I think that human rights policies in China are definitely a problem, but it is hard to compete without manufacturing abroad. At this point all I can do is be sure that the factories I work with provide fair wages and good working conditions for their employees.
When are you going to be on QVC?
My first appearance is in February, I will be showing a small spring collection.
Will the infamous Little Black Dress be available too?
I am working with QVC on that now. Because the proceeds go to benefit Dress for Success, I would like the dress to be continuously available on QVC’s web site, not just during my shows. Both the manufacturer and QVC have been very generous in trying to make this happen.
You also have a maternity line coming up, right?
I do have a glam maternity line designed, but I haven’t found the right home for it yet.
Tell us about the iVillage project. What’s it like becoming a super heroine?
This is a really fun project. How flattering is it to become an illustrated character? When it was time to pick the illustrator, several illustrators sent their resumes and guess who was picked? Robert Best. I love his work and have wanted to do a project with him. Despite what Nina says, I don’t find him boring.
When are they going to start publishing it?
End of November, once a month, online.
Tell us about your experience as a guest star on Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style.
It was fun. I didn’t think Nicole necessarily needed a makeover. She had a perfectly acceptable casual style. I think she needed more of a reminder of her importance in the pecking order of her family. It is a mistake a lot of women make, focusing on everyone else and not taking time for themselves.
Who came up with the vest idea?
(Withering look) They did. I am still learning to follow my gut and just say no. The producers were looking for a visual example of the message I was trying to convey. I didn’t have a better solution.
Did you talk to Veronica Webb? What did you think of her?
I didn’t spend much time with her. I mean, the time I spent with her was pretty much what you see on TV.
You looked very natural on the show/in front of a camera.
It’s not as easy as it looks. I have gotten a lot of practice doing my MSN videos. I feel very comfortable in front of the camera now.
You mentioned you’re considering television work.
Yes, I had this great idea for a TV show about the history of fashion, but several people told me it was boring, too intellectual. One person actually offered to put me in touch with people at the BBC. When I mentioned it to the producer of Tim’s show, he agreed it didn’t work but said he had a project I might be interested in, a fashion game show. I immediately said sign me up!
Why are you concentrating on a TV career as much as a fashion career?
Coming out of Project Runway, I had a 3-pronged career plan in mind: 1) to design and sell fashion. 2) To find a media project, a necessary evil in the design world these days. 3) And to have a charitable aspect to my business. Between QVC, The game show and comic strip, and Dress for Success I am well on my way.
Tell us about “winning” the Snoopy Challenge for the MetLife show – because you totally did. Was that important to you?
Loser’s Syndrome. I am still trying to win Project runway! I took it seriously because it was for a great cause, and it was a great opportunity to show in Bryant Park.
From where we’re sitting, it looks to us that – unlike quite a few of the PR alums, you’re actually getting more offers instead of less a year after your season wrapped.
I expected a flurry of offers after the show but thought they would die down. It has taken a year, but the really great offers to fulfill my plan are just happening now. I held out for the right projects.
Alright. Two words. “Emmy” and “Dress”
Oh, that. Look, I was told that I was a minor celebrity and that I needed to do something wacky if I wanted to get noticed. I trusted the public relations people. They have the experience and they asked me to incorporate the “Dress Like You Mean It” tag line into my clothing. They kept saying I could pull it off. In the end I thought, “Nobody cares what I’m wearing.” I don’t have taste issues and I think people know that. It was a “nothing gained, nothing lost” situation, a neutral outcome.
It worked for them, they got millions of hits and you got fugged!
I was so excited to be fugged. My friend Patty Heaton called me and said “Oh, I’m so sorry, Laura.” I LOVED it. I love that web site. I want a t-shirt that says “Proud to be Fugged.” My eight year old worries what I wear now, he is afraid I will be fugged again, and my daughter Cleo was horrified.
You know what we’re going to ask now, right? It’s what everybody asks us.
Yes, go ahead, ask.
Do you still think that Jeffrey cheated?
If I had to do it over again, I would do the same thing. If he didn’t cheat then good for him. If he did, Karma is a bitch. That’s all I’m sayin’.