Before Her Stroll Down Project Runway, a Brief Interview With Dallas's Louise Black

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Louise Black
Finally, Project Runway returns tonight at 9 on its new home at Lifetime -- and, if nothing else, Jon Stewart shares my enthusiasm. Of course, locals have two good reasons to take note of this dramatically long-delayed season: And as we've mentioned a couple of times, Shirin Askari of Richardson and Louise Black of East Dallas are among the designers this sixth go-round. So, yes, expect a wrap-up tomorrow. Well, look, it's either that or a report from Avi Adelman's appearance before the city's Ethics Advisory Commission.

So before we pour our highballs and settle in for the long evening ahead (two hours' worth of all-stars too!), this brief chat with Black, who's been selling her Goth stylings online since 2000 to more than a few Friends of Unfair Park who, says one, find them "a major conversation-starter."

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Black's Avant Garde Op-Art Striped Evening Dress, which has been viewed on her Etsy page more than 5,000 times
As it turns out, Black actually went to New York City about three years back to audition for the show, only to hop a subway train heading the wrong direction; Tim Gunn had left the building by the time Black and her husband had returned from Brooklyn. Perhaps it was for the best: "It was a blessing in disguise," she tells Unfair Park. "I wouldn't have made it on at the time, and if I had, I wouldn't have had the experience."

Black, of course, wasn't even sure her turn on the series would even appear, as it bounced from Bravo to Lifetime and made myriad stopovers in lawyers' offices.

"I was just kinda like, 'If it happens, it happens, and if it doesn't, oh, well, it's been a good experience," she says. "I enjoyed meeting Tim Gunn, of course, and Heidi [Klum] and all the guest judges, and it was a blast to be around all the designers and talk to everyone from all parts of the country. It's a plus that it's actually coming out."

After the jump, a few more Q's and A's.

I love the show for one simple reason: There's something thrilling about watching people make something from nothing in a matter of hours. But that's the experience of someone who can't sew a button back onto a shirt. What's it like for a designer to watch Project Runway?

It's very stressful for me. I have a love-hate relationship with the show., It's fun to watch it, but, really, as a designer you have to sit down with a cocktail to watch it. I had to calm my nerves. Watching it puts me in a frenzy. I've worked in horrible bin lines before. [She laughs.] When I watch the other designers poking their fingers on the sewing machine and tearing their hair out and throwing tantrums, I understand that kind of stress -- especially now, having done the show.

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Her Victorian Steampunk Anatomical Medical Skeleton Cameo Corset, also on Etsy
Did you want to do it to be part of that thrill?

I went into this, doing the show, for the experience. I didn't put a lot of thought in it. Before I got on I didn't sit around and wonder, "What would I do if I got this challenge?" I didn't want to be practiced so much going into it. I wanted it to be organic, to see what would happen if completely insane things were brought up that I hadn't thought of. So I didn't prepare myself for the show going into it. I pretty much went into with my eyes closed. And when I got there, I was like, "Oh, wow."

Is that because you don't want to have expectations? You don't want to be disappointed?

Honestly, I was so busy with my own business before the show that I really didn't have a lot of time to sit down and do faux challenges. We had kinda thought about doing it. My husband was like, "Maybe we should do some little challenges here and there. I'll spring something on you." But I was trying to finish up orders till the last day before I went to L.A.

When you go, and obviously we can't talk about how long you were there, you go without knowing how long you'll be there. I imagine the stress is excruciating from first snip to last "You're out."

I tried to take it really easy, When I got there, I just told myself, "You know, I'm not going to expect to win, but it'd be cool if I did." I wasn't so serious about it like some of the other people there were. I was just happy to be there, honestly. That was thrill enough -- for me to make it on to the show. If I did well, then hurray. My main goal was to try to stay on and keep going as long as I could."

So, then, where did your design aesthetic come from?

I was a Goth girl in high school in Temple.

That was an unexpected answer.

When I met my husband, we both are interested in a lot of the same things, We're both horror-movie fanatics, and we enjoy haunted houses and all things kinda creepy. Like, our house is decorated in lots of dark colors and red-velvet couches. It's like an insane vampire thing. We've got doll parts and mannequin parts all over the place. That kinda helps me. And I'm really attracted to antique textiles and historical clothing from the 18th century to the '40s.Most of my wardrobe is probably vintage clothing or vintage-inspired.

As opposed to The Gap. When you see what other people wear, do you feel sorry for them?

Sometimes.
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