'Project Runway All Stars' winner Mondo Guerra on competing twice in 2 years: 'I would be doing it anyway'

mondo-guerra-pras.jpgMondo Guerra's life has changed quite a bit in the past two years. The Denver-based designer finished second on Season 8 of Lifetime's "Project Runway," only to come back even stronger and win the very first "Project Runway All Stars" season.

Guerra tells Zap2it after his "All Stars" win that he's really had to step back and enjoy his success. "It's been an exciting journey coming off of Season 8 and going into 'All Stars'. It's weird to think this has all happened, both shows, in less than two years. It's a moment of reflection," he says.

Some people could've gotten burnt out from completing "Runway's" grueling, condensed, televised design process twice in a row, but not Guerra. "I would be doing it anyway," he explains. "I would be doing it for myself here in my studio. As an artist you just continue to work. Everything contributes to the big picture. Fortunately, I was able to share that with so many people being on a reality television show."

The "All Stars" finale, which saw Guerra competing against fellow Season 8 contestant Michael Costello and Season 1's Austin Scarlett, was different from your typical "Project Runway" ending because the three designers got just four days to complete their six-piece collections.

"I think we all would've loved to have a little bit more time," Guerra says of the time constraint, "but that's the nature of the beast. You just roll with the punches. That's just part of the game. And more than the design, it was a reflection of who I am as a person and what my process is."

Although Guerra's gotten some criticism for his attitude during "All Stars," he's okay that people have seen him at less than his best. "I was accused of being ungrateful and condescending and whiny, and I think people should realize if they were in front of a camera that's basically attached to their shoulder for six weeks, and working day after day after day after day after day, your attitude might flip up a little bit and it would be caught on camera for everybody to scrutinize. ... People were able to see a different side of me this time around. I'm not naturally like that -- it's just being under the pressures of a challenge and not having any connection to the world."

Guerra has nothing but kind words for both of his finale competitors. "I think Austin stepped out of his own box and did something that was a little bit more edgy and unexpected of him," he says. "I was really nervous for him because even right before the runway show he was still sewing full garments. I think he bit off more than he could chew, but that's what Austin does. Austin always wants to be the grandest, the most celebrated, so kudos to him. He did a great job and he really pulled it off."

Costello is Guerra's friend from Season 8, so of course he was rooting for him to succeed. "I'm so proud of him. It was so awesome to be able to share that experience with him, especially coming off of Season 8 and being us really good friends and sharing this past year together. Towards the end we were really rooting for each other. I thought he did a really great job with his safari-inspired resort wear. It was really commercial and really accessible, and I think that it was received very well."

Actually, the fact that all three finalists came up with great collections is just a testament to the level of skill each person brought to the "All Stars" season. "That was what was so exciting -- at every single runway show it was just, like, anybody could go. I mean, we saw that in the seventh challenge when Rami went home. Anybody could go at any time because the level of talent there was amazing. It really kept everybody on their toes."

Now that he's won, Guerra says he's looking forward to working with Joanna Coles and Nina Garcia at Marie Claire. Right now, though, he's currently putting some finishing touches on his collection for Neiman Marcus. "We're woking on the collection for Neiman Marcus, tweaking it a little bit -- you know how it is. We're really aiming for Fall 2012."

Photo/Video credit: Lifetime
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