Project Runway Champ's Secrets to Success
Seth Aaron Henderson opens up about winning and his plans to stay on top.
SEE THE PHOTO SHOOT AND OUR BEHIND-THE-SCENES VIDEO WITH SETH AARON
By Katie L. Connor
"The attention is here right now. If I go away, it goes away. You have to suck it as long as you can, because six months from now I can always create another collection, but I can't get on Regis and Kelly." —Seth Aaron Henderson
Photo Credit: Perry Hagopian
Neck tattoos aren't exactly welcome in the business world. But on Project Runway, they just might be a lucky charm. First came Season 3 winner Jeffrey Sebelia's scripted jugular, now Seth Aaron Henderson's collar-grazing star a fitting stamp for the seventh season's victor. "I'm all about making a bold statement," the 38-year-old says of his brazen display of ink.
Yet Henderson's looks are deceiving. Behind the brash rockabilly-punk exterior is a proud father of two Aaron, 14, and Megan, 12 who still feels guilty for missing last summer with the family because of filming. (To make it up to them, Henderson says, part of the $100,000 prize money will go toward a vacation.) What's more, the former stylist, whose fingernails are rarely sans black polish, is a hard-core student of his craft. "I'm not one of those designers like some who say, 'I know what I'm doing and fuck everybody else'" a jab at PR runner-up Emilio Sosa, who often shunned the advice of Runway mentor Tim Gunn. "I like to hear ideas. Every time I finish a piece, I know it can be better." Henderson credits PR judge and MC fashion director Nina Garcia the most with helping him grow as a designer. "Nina would say, 'Beautiful, but ...' That's what I want to hear the but ..."
Not that Henderson is all conformist all the time. Citing 1940s Russian and German soldiers as the inspiration for his winning collection caused a minor scandal. "It was intentional to a degree," he says. "It had nothing to do with politics or the Nazi party, but I knew that as soon as I said it, people would start talking. A little controversy never hurt anybody." Generating buzz is Henderson's best defense against a post-win slump. "The attention is here right now. If I go away, it goes away. You have to suck it as long as you can, because six months from now I can always create another collection, but I can't get on Regis and Kelly." Talk is cheap, and this guy knows how to budget the limelight.