Cesar Galindo dishes on his reality TV experience on The Fashion Show
After making it to the final four on the Bravo reality series, The Fashion Show: Ultimate Collection, Cesar Galindo got the boot Tuesday night. Even so, he says it the experience was worthwhile because it raised his profile in the fashion world and beyond.
"For me, it was great. I'm happy and thankful that I did it. It got me national exposure and I made a lot of good friends," the Houston native said during a phone conversation from New York. "I was exposed to top people, like (The Fashion Show hosts) Iman and Isaac (Mizrahi) and (Harper's Bazaar editor) Glenda Bailey. And I'm part of the Bravo network, with a two year contract. I'm up for a couple of shows. We'll see what happens."
However, reality shows are grueling and the experience wasn't a vacation.
"I was in prison for a month-and-a-half," Galindo says about the shooting, which took place last summer. "We were dealing with the heat in New York, long hours, and a lot of stress that people don't see when they watch the show.
"We'd finish one show and would wake up the next day for another program. We're working on their budget. There's no wasting time. We were all exhausted."
He says the high point came in the first episode, when he won the competition when he easily whipped up a one-shoulder glamour gown. "I introduced myself right away," he noted.
Low point? He says there really wasn't one. "I don't mean to sound like Oprah, but even exiting wasn't a low point. I handled myself as a professional. I was proud of the part I played. It shows in my work."
The subpar level of the competition was surprising, though. On the telecasts, he seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time helping young designers with basic tasks like draping and constructing a corset.
"There were designers on the show who didn't know who Sciaparelli is. They had never heard of Vivienne Westwood or Norma Kamali. These people are part of our heritage," Galindo said. "I'm a high school dropout but I've always followed my passion in everything I possessed."
Galindo has made some lasting friendships with several designers on the show, including finalists Dominique David, who is assisting him on his latest collection, and Jeffrey Williams.
But what about Calvin Tran? The scheming contestant constantly belittled his competition and designed inferior clothing that often landed him in the bottom two each week. But to the amazement of contestants, Tran survived to the finals, largely it is suspected because his outsized personality makes good TV.
"No one should tolerate a Calvin Tran, as a client or contestant. He was nasty, he was constantly trying to scheme and figure out a strategy," Galindo said. "If he wins, the show should be called the Ultimate Bitch. It isn't about Dynasty, it's about designing."
With Galindo's talent and longevity in the business, I was surprised that he agreed to appear on the show. But he reasoned it would raise his profile — and it did.
"We're in the worst recession in a lifetime and fashion has been hard hit. In the worst of times, the best thing you can do is brand yourself in a positive way. More people are aware of who I am. There's so much value in that," he said.
In addition to working on his fall 2011 collection, Galindo is currently assisting Gwen Stefani on her fall collection. And he is close to inking a deal with a Montreal company to finance a secondary line of designer sportswear, which he will call Czar (it can be pronounced like the Russian ruler or C-zar as a play on Galindo's first name) that will appear in stores next fall.
"It's a big deal for me," he said. "It takes money to do the proper thing. I've struggled long enough."