When we first watched Lifetime’s “On the Road with Austin & Santino,” we were hooked. We though that whomever decided to toss two of our favorite “Project Runway” designers in a car and have them drive cross-country solving real women’s fashion dilemmas is genius. Well, Santino Rice rarely shies away from tooting his own horn.
“[Austin Scarlett] and I have been developing this idea for a while,” Santino tells Zap2it, though he didn’t find out that Austin doesn’t know how to drive until right before shooting.
While this is Santino’s newest TV venture, fans know he’s also a judge on Logo’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and, of course, he was one of the three finalists on Season 2 of “Project Runway.”
Santino has consciously kept his fashion design business small. Like with “On the Road,” he designs one-of-a-kind pieces for his clients and the income from his TV gigs allows him to continue doing that.
“I’ve seen a lot of ‘Project Runway’ contestants try to launch a big line right away,” he says. “I may do that in the future, but I don’t want to lose what I have now, because I tried to do too much, too soon.”
What Austin and Santino are doing every week on their Lifetime show – designing for real women and not fashion models – almost certainly meets with groans when “Project Runway” contestants are faced with similar challenges. Santino, on the other hand, is thrilled by the challenge.
“My clients are real women,” he says. “They’re not high fashion models. It takes a lot more experience to design for women with curves and that’s why the contestants on ‘Project Runway’ find it so hard. They’re used to wrapping a towel on a girl and attaching some buttons and pushing her out on to the runway.”
He continues, “I love designing for women with real bodies – not just straight up and down. You’re perfect the way you are.”
If you watch Santino and Austin’s show, you’ll know that they’re typically designing a dress for a meaningful event in the woman’s life. On Thursday’s Oct. 7 episode, the designers help a woman celebrate 5 years of being cancer-free.
“She’s reaching her five year mark,” Santino tells us. “Which means the chances of it returning are very rare. I can’t even watch the episode. I get teary-eyed just talking about it.”
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Photo credit: Lifetime Television