Project Runway All Stars’ Althea Harper — an alum from the style-savvy show’s sixth season — has no qualms being labeled her team’s “bossy” broad.
In fact, she takes it as a compliment! She does work in the catty, cut-throat fashion world, after all.
“I do come across a little bossy,” she tells GossipDavid.com of how she’s perceived on the show, hosted by supermodel Carolyn Murphy with judges Isaac Mizrahi and Georgina Chapman, and mentor Joanna Coles. ”This is not an easy industry to work in. In this industry, you do not get anywhere without being bossy and not being assertive.”
A native of Dayton, Ohio, she adds, “It’s funny that people are like you’re bossy. For me, I take it as a compliment, because I’ve always been a little shy. You have to be a little bit bossy. You have to be assertive.”
Also, says the designer of her own eponymous collection, “because it’s a team challenge, I felt responsible for my group.”
And Althea, whose pieces have been worn by celebs including the Kardashian sisters and has been featured in Elle and WWD,” says, “I can’t walk into Vogue and not act like my stuff is the best thing since sliced white bread because they’re not going to want look twice if I don’t. That’s how you have to be in the actual world so that’s how I approached it.”
But Althea wasn’t this headstrong when she first appeared on Project Runway in 2008, as a then-23-year-old Midwest transplant: “I definitely think I come across more confident this season,” she says. “Some people find that an appealing trait and some find that to be like, ‘oh they’re so full of themselves.’”
When she made her debut on the show, Althea says she was “straight out of college, I had bleach-blonde hair.” A stark contrast to All Stars, in which she says she “came off more professional than I did the first time.”
Althea says she approached All Stars much differently than she did her first run on the show. “The pressure was off me this time, because I feel I’ve already proved myself…I have a customer base I know that loves my designs regardless of how I perform on the show. It was more like I want to do this for myself and have fun with it. But it’s not the same type of pressure the first time.”
And she’s happy remaining a fashion designer — not a reality TV star. “At the end of the day people want the personality. People want the drama. But I have no aspiration to be a reality star. I just want to show my designs.”
And with a rapidly-expanding fashion empire, her collections are her priority: There’s the Althea Harper collection, a luxurious contemporary line, which is increasing its number of pieces and expanding its retail footprint. She also has an organic jersey collection called Sittella, offered at a lower price point.
On the horizon? An activewear line launching likely within the first quarter of next year. She describes it as “fashion-forward…people can wear it outside the house…You might go to yoga, but then you have to run errands and it doesn’t look like you’re wearing your sweats.”
Project Runway All Stars airs Thursdays @ 9/8c p.m on Lifetime. Celeb guest judges this season include Katie Holmes, Stacy Keibler, Kylie Minogue and Liv Tyler.