Film & TV

Project Accessory's Brian Burkhardt on the 305, Molly Sims, and Handling Criticism

​Sporting a Freegums T-shirt and creating a belt out of teddy bear parts, Miami's own Brian Burkhardt made his national debut as a top-of-the-line designer on Lifetime's i>Project Accessory. The show, a spinoff of Project Runway, premiered last week.

Burkhardt works with his wife Trisha Brookbank on Triian jewelry and both are artists-turned-jewelry-designers who create highly-coveted sculptural pieces sold at Anthropologie. Their work was also displayed on runway models during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim.

We spoke with Burkhardt for a rundown on the new show. While we still don't know who the winner is, we're psyched South Florida's on the fashion radar. Check out our Q&A after the jump.

New Times: Congratulations for being in the top three last week. Very exciting. What was it like being on the stage before you knew that you were in the top three as opposed to the bottom three?
Brian Burkhardt: It was the most nerve-wracking experience of my life. It was super overwhelming. To be honest with you, maybe coupled with the fact that you're exhausted, the first challenge was super demanding. Normally, when you work as a designer, you're by yourself or maybe in the room with another person. Now you're in a room with 12 people, with cameras and everything else. You just feel like you're thrown into this insane mix and you're onstage being judged and critiqued. I think it's everyone's worst nightmare to be off on the first show.

Nicolina said something mean about your outfit and you said something kind of nice about her. I know they edit it...
Well, I said that she's as crazy as a loon. What I like about Nicolina is that she tells you what she thinks. She might not know how to edit what she says, but she definitely doesn't hold back, and I can respect that in somebody.

I thought what you made was really cool, as did the other lady judges, but Kenneth Cole was critical. Were your feelings hurt by that?
No, I wasn't really that surprised because Kenneth Cole makes some amazing American staples, very traditional, timeless pieces. I felt that a lot of his line that I'm familiar with is very conservative in nature. I wasn't really surprised that he didn't like my post-apocalyptic work at all.

You seemed like one of the only people who were cool and collected when you were creating your look. Were you as confident as it seemed?
First of all, if you got that feeling from me, that's fantastic. It was very scary, the whole experience of that. Again, being drawn into this, this whole different scenario was overwhelming. Being an artist, I was fortunate enough to have been critiqued thousands of times and I've found that one person's gonna love it, one person's gonna hate it, and one person's not going to care. In many ways, that's not going to change.

Do you get to keep items after the show?
No, I don't get to keep anything on the show.

Molly Sims doesn't seem to be as charming as Heidi Klum.
Ah, I totally disagree with you. She is a gem. I think she's got such a great sense of humor. I think that Molly is a little bit warmer.

Were you surprised by what was edited out? You don't get to see these shows before they air?
No, I didn't get to see anything. It's kind of interesting because I didn't know how I was going to be presented or how people perceive me. I was very happy with how they edited it. I think it was pretty much true to what the experience there was, I think for all of us. But it was a very short version of it. I was very happy with how I came out, except maybe minus 20 pounds, but that's not their problem, that's my own problem (laughs).

Did you and Nina (Cortes) get to bond on the show?
We did, and we both did Miami proud. I think in the industry, all the designers are from New York or L.A. and we're like, we're going to show them that Miami's here, and we're going to kick some ass. Nina and I always look out for each other.

Catch Project Accessory on Lifetime every Thursday at 10 p.m.

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Liz Tracy has written for publications such as the New York Times, the Atlantic, Refinery29, W, Glamour, and, of course, Miami New Times. She was New Times Broward-Palm Beach's music editor for three years. Now she plays one mean monster with her 2-year-old son and obsessively watches British mysteries.
Contact: Liz Tracy