This week's episode of The Fashion Show Ultimate Collection was a double doozy as cast members from the Real Housewives of Orange Country and the Real Housewives of New Jersey descended on the dueling design houses. The challenge: create a collection of evening wear for the wives to wear to a formal gala. The House of Nami took the ladies of California, while the House of Emerald consulted with the women of New Jersey, and boy did they all have their hands full. Unlike the contestants' models who arrive and slip into their garments without fuss, these women had extremely strong opinions about what they wanted—the most obvious being Gretchen of Orange County, who actually showed up with her own sketches. That wasn't the worst of it, though. Gretchen wore Spanx during her consulation with Golnessa and failed to tell her that fact until after her measurements had already been taken. The next day, Gretchen showed up to her fitting without the leg-slimming undergarments on, tearing her dress with about two-inches of unexpected thigh. Golnessa added an odd-looking panel down the side to compensate, but it was far from ideal, she says, and ultimately not ok by the judges. The latest contestant to pack up her sewing kit, Golnessa talks to us about her design partnership with fellow contestant Cindy (the pair founded the line "Goci" in 2009), and working with a "real" housewife. Not surprisingly, her biggest regret has to do with Spanx and the lack of full disclosure.
Where are you now?
I'm in Los Angeles. I'm running my own line, Goci. I'm also the design director of this other company, which I got after the show, so this is new for me, and it's very exciting. Everything else is about the same, just trying to work with Cindy as well, putting our line together for our new collection so it's the same routine, just a little busier.
How did you and Cindy meet and become design partners?
Cindy and I met at school, at Woodbury University, when we went to college there. She was also studying design and i think we met the first day we got there and right off hte bat we were so close, and we always understood each other. I think because we come from very similar backgrounds—she's from Mexico, I'm from Iran—but we were raised the same way and we have the same values. As far as design aspects go, we envision the same thing and we complement each other. It's always worked out fine and it's been ten, eleven years of great friendship, great work partnership.
Did you both decide to apply for the show together, as a pair?
I actually was in another country when I heard about this. I came back a little early to make the audition, and Cindy did the same. We just wanted to go and have fun and see what would come out of it. We went individually—different times.
When you both found out you were on the show together, did you discuss how you'd manage being competitors?
No. We didn't know who got on the show until literally a day or two before the show. I had no idea. Going in for auditions they always told us it would be one or the other, not both of us on the show. We were expecting just one of us to get in and that would have been perfectly fine. From the beginning they always said only one of you is going to get in because it wouldn't be fair to the other people—stuff like that. When we both found out, we were ecstatic. We didn't really think about anything, just because the whole time, thinking one is going to be there, so we had nothing planned. When we both found out we were both on the show we decided to, kind of stay away because we didn't want to create drama.
Moving on the the actual challenge, did you know who Gretchen was? Had you watched the Real Housewives of Orange County before?
I'd never seen that show before. I heard about it, but I'd never seen it and I didn't know who she was. I just picked her because she was so beautiful and gorgeous ,and I said I wanted to work with her.
Were you put off when she brought her own sketches to the consultation?
I was just so surprised by how, every single detail, she knew to the dot what she wanted. And I kind of had no say in it because she had everything finished already. All I had to do was get her measurements it seemed. I tried to work with her because at the end of the day she's a customer and she needs to be happy. But if her sketch was something unusual that didn't go with my style, I definitely would have changed it, but I understood what she wanted and I thought her sketch was beautiful. It was the whole "bling-bling" she wanted, I wasn't having that. I couldn't let her go to a gala with blings on her dress, that just wasn't going to happen, so we had to compromise.
Do you feel the dress was an accurate representation of your vision as well as Gretchen's? Was it more her vision than yours?
It was about equal. It was her vision and my vision, also she wanted off the shoulder and something poufy on the bottom, so I was going with her vision, but I would never make something that I don't love myself 100 percent. I love that dress and I would never do it otherwise.
So is there anything you would have done differently, looking back on the challenge?
I just wish she had told me she was wearing so many layers of Spanx when I was measuring her. My measurements were all just about two-inches short everywhere. She told me later, after that she was wearing two layers of Spanx, something that was sucking her in. Usually on a normal day I go back to the fabric store and I go buy more fabric, but because I didn't have any more to work with at the show, the next day the best thing I could do was to put that little banana thing they called on the side. But that's not something I like, of course. I never would have done that in real time.
Was there a moment where you really felt like you might go home for your design?
This episode was a huge shock to me, and to everyone in my group. From the beginning we were all experienced in gowns and evening wear, and the challenge was they were going to a gala. We all created evening gowns, rather than the other team that just had jerseys, chiffons, tucked in. To me those weren't gowns. I honestly had no idea I'd go home. I thought I had the best dress besides Cindy that night, and I thought our team was by far ahead of the other team.
Who do you think will win this season? Predictions? Preferences?
Predictions...I think Eduardo. He's been winning week after week, so I think everybody including me predicts he's going to be in the final. I would just love to see Cindy win because I think she's really talented and she's giving everyone more than what she's comfortable, so I think she deserves to win.