Anyone who has caught even a moment of the new season of Project Runway has no doubt laughed out loud at something Robert Best has said. Luckily, the designer is also extremely talentedif he werent he wouldnt have been designing Barbies dresses for the past 10 years. After the Utah native graduated from Parsons, where the series shoots, he spent time working for fashion luminaries like Donna Karan and Isaac Mizrahi before heading to the Left Coast, where he currently resides.
You seem very comfortable in front of the camera. Did you go to the Barbizon school for models or something?
Absolutely. I would say the Barbizon really taught me everything I needed to know about being on camera. Actually, having been at Mattel and Isaac Mizrahi was good trainingat the time I was at Isaac, they made the movie Unzipped. That was my first experience having someone with a boom around all the time. At Mattel Ive gone on the Today show to talk about Barbie and have done radio. At first when I saw myself I was like, Is that what I look like? But Im used to it.
How was doing the show?
Overall, it was a really fun experience. It was twisted in ways you cant even imagine., There's no way in the world to prepare for the experience you go through. Every minute youre surprised or caught off guard or feel like its a bizarre, surreal dream youre hoping ends soonbut doesnt. But part of you wants to fight because in real life you control how you present yourself; when youre doing this show, you dont have the control. You don't have the mic, Heidi does, and you hope to get on her good side. Different people control what you look like so you have to give over worrying about that sort of thing. You cant fight the production. If you try, I wanna be portrayed as the funny, nice guy, youre gonna lose.
Since you went to Parsons, did you already know Tim?
I did know Tim from my days at Parsons, which was interesting. The experience of being back at Parsons was very full circle. Youre learning the craft when youre at school. And then you come back and youre practicing it. So it was kind of like old home week.
Did it help knowing Tim?
Not remotely. I wanted it to, certainly. But its all based on merit. Everyone has a different experience that may help them, as in the case of the second episodeKaynes experience with pageants certainly helped us. You dont know what the challenges are going to be. So even knowing Tim, in the end, is a moot point. But it helps to have someone rooting for you in your corner. And Tim always appreciated my sense of style, so its good to have someone like that around.
You and Kayne seemed to get along great.
Kayne was a hoot and a halfthats his quote. He was great. So funny and easygoing, the kind of personality that if youre going to do a challenge, hes the person you want to work with. When youre not cracking each other up, youre getting the work done. We got along very well. We have a similar sense of humor. It helps that were both gay.
I know, shocker.
Was there anyone else you really loved on the show?
I loved to hate Laura. I loved to make fun of her, and she would do the same to me. Vincent, for all his nuttiness, is the greatest guy. I really enjoyed Vincent. He truly marches to his own drummer, but I enjoyed the tune. Michael Knight was the best roommate everand such a rock star.
Who got on your nerves?
Keith. The good thing about Keith was that he was so full of himself that it didnt matter if anyone didnt like him. Because he liked himself enough for all of us.
You worked for Isaac Mizrahi. How was that?
That was a trip without tickets. It was an awesome experience in terms of the true fashion, Devil Wears Prada experience. Really being in the thick of the industry, meeting incredible people, and getting a hands-on of what it means to be in the eye of the storm because Isaac was wildly popular in the press at the timehe and Marc Jacobs were the face of American fashion with respect to the classics like Ralph and Donna. Isaac and Marc were the up and coming. But theres no love lost between us.
What made you move to Los Angeles? Its not really considered the fashion capital of the universe.
I needed to get a tan and work out more, so I figured I should move to West Hollywood. I wanted to meet hotter men. [Laughs] Im totally serious. [More laughter] I wanted to get away from Isaac because I was slowly being driven mad. I needed a new job. I thought a change of life in general would be good for me. A friend of mine said I should work at Barbie and when I learned they were headquartered on the west coast, I thought, Why not?
What do you think of Barbie?
Barbie rocks my world. Shes awesome. One thing I have found interesting working on Barbie is how many opinions people have about her. She can be a love or hate thing for people. You hear how shes caused people to have eating disorders. I think those people are whiners and they should shut the fuck up. Stop blaming a doll for your problems. Its amazing that shes a fashion icon and a legend. I think Ive reached more people designing for Barbie than I ever did when I was working in high fashion. When people love her, they really love her. Its amazing the many places its offered me opportunity to travel to: Japan, England Its pretty incredible.
You made some reference about her being a little like a drag queen in the first show.
See, but I thought that was a good thing. I applaud drag queens and I love their work.
Are you dating anyone?
Not a soul. Im not one to not look. But men are crazy. Who needs em? Im not actively pursuing. Plus, I want to have children. And when you tell men that, it sends most of em running into the woods. If I cant fuck and leave you, I want no part of you. Im a very happy person. Im very fulfilled in my life. Im looking for a relationship to complement my life, I dont need it to solve my problems.
Whats the reaction been like since the show began?
Unbelievable. I had no idea how popular the show was. I love the show now that Ive been on it. Literally, and it sounds like a joke, Ive had people scream out of car windows. Its amazing. And its not just men who want to sleep with me. Its women. Its children. Its small farm animals. Its great to be involved with something that has such a positive effect on people. And hopefully its great exposure.
Whats the biggest fashion faux pas a guy can make?
One of them is tanning. Over-tanning to the point you look like an Oopma Loompaand this is for men and women. You see this in the gym ad nauseum. When your skin starts to resemble an orange pleather handbag, you need to step away from the Mystic Tanning hose. Its near criminal. Another one isespecially in gay menwearing clothes that are so tight and painted on. Like T-shirts that look like they were made for someone else. Wear your fucking size. Or wear clothes that are a little bit roomy. Its OK. All your hours at the gym are appreciated. Otherwise we dont want to see your puffy-ass body in a Baby Gap T-shirt.
Check out our interview with Kayne here.