A huge fan of "Project Runway," Alyssa Milano was excited when she got a call from the producers of the show inviting her to host the third season of "Project Runway All Stars," which premieres on Lifetime Thursday, October 24 at 9 p.m. EST.
"I don't really remember a time that I didn't love fashion," says the actress, who we saw immersed in all sorts of drama on ABC's "Mistresses" this summer. "My mom was a fashion designer when I was a little girl, and she was sold in Bloomingdale's, and then she had a store in Brooklyn called Me and We. So I grew up with patterns all over the house and stickpins in my feet and all of that."
Milano also got into the fashion business when she started the TOUCH by Alyssa Milano clothing and jewelry line in 2007, so she knows what goes into the design process and what it is like for anyone trying to make it in the industry.
Still, Milano says she got quite an education from Isaac Mizrahi and Georgina Chapman, who return as judges on "Project Runway All Stars" this season. "They are really good at their jobs and just watching them taught me so much. There is nobody that gives a critique like Isaac Mizrahi. He always starts out with the loveliest thing you could possibly say and then just, like, goes for the jugular. It's the most amazing thing to watch," she says with a laugh. "I don't know how he gets away with it. He is so just sort of honest and real, and most of the time right, although he and I disagreed most of the time on every single challenge, which was pretty funny."
Milano couldn't play favorites, of course, but she admits that she was thrilled to see some of her favorite "Project Runway" contestants, including former winners Jeffrey Sebelia and Seth Aaron Henderson, return to compete for runway glory on "Project Runway All Stars" as well as a prize package worth nearly $1 million. The rest of the all stars cast is made up of Korto Momolu (another one of Milano's all-time faves), Daniel Esquivel, Elena Slivnyak, Christopher Palu, Melissa Fleis, Viktor Luna, Ari South (formerly Andy South), Irina Shabayeva, and Mychael Knight.
"Marie Claire" senior fashion editor Zanna Roberts Rassi steps into the role of mentor this season.
While Milano went into the show knowing that designers would be sent packing, that didn't make it any easier to see them go. "There were nights that I went home that I couldn't sleep because of who went home—which, by the way, I did not expect at all," Milano says. "But when you are sending someone home, you are basically shattering their dreams, so it's a tough position to be in, and we never, ever took that lightly."
As you'll see, Milano responds most favorably to the designers who aren't afraid to take chances. The first challenge has the designers going punk rock (Debbie Harry is the guest judge!), and it is one of the best competitions of the season, according to Milano. "I think my own personal style is eclectic, too. I mean, I really like fashion that is innovative and yet wearable. I like people that take risks with fashion. I like designers that take risks. I like clothes that you can put on and tell a story with, depending on how you feel that day," she says. "That is sort of my dream aesthetic."
That said, Milano is the mom of a two-year-old son, so
oftentimes her clothing choices have to be more practical these days. But she
did get to indulge her fashion fantasies and wear some stunning clothing while
hosting "Project Runway All Stars"—you will see her in everything from vintage
Dior to Marissa Webb's fashion-forward designs. "We really wanted to have fun
with my wardrobe and my styling, and Emily Barnes was the stylist on the show,
and she just did a great, great, great, great job," Milano says. "This job is
sort of that dream job for a girl that loves fashion and that loves the show,
because you get to go in and get pampered and get your hair and makeup done by
the best teams in New York."