She spit on her dresses to bless them. She’s rubbed her fabric with grass to “imbibe it with a natural essence.” Nobody would confuse Elisa Jimenez, a practiced interdisciplinary artist, with a conventional Project Runway contestant. For six weeks, she was a singular and delightfully eccentric presence. But Jimenez was sent packing on Wednesday’s episode after failing to wow the judges with her candy-inspired dress. True to form, the designer left in a with some happy tears and a spiritual benediction (or at least that’s what it sounded like).
Calling from her New Mexico home, Jimenez translated her parting words on the runway, explained why spitting is spiritual and her beef with dry cleaning.
What did you say on the runway after you were eliminated? I said, “I want to thank you all very much for letting me have this experience. It’s been extremely positive.” And I said, “I bless you in everything that you do. Ax .” It’s Brazilian. It basically just means: “complete blessings — everything you do, everything you say, everything you are.” It’s like a “god bless” but it’s more open because it’s not so heavy handed. It was just my way of blessing the panel, blessing all my colleagues, blessing the whole experience.
Tell us about your spit mark method. You know what I love about that? You’re standing with a client working on her — clients that a lot of my colleagues or America would have thoroughly respected — who don’t even flinch when I do a blessing mark, because that’s really what it is. Depending on what the person’s doing — or where the person’s at — you’re saying, “I release this pain. I release this fear. I help bring this forward. I bring prosperity.” What I find fascinating is there’s such a hullabaloo about the spit marking yet there’s no conversation about what dry cleaning does to the body, to the environment or future generations.
You never seemed defensive up there and always seemed to take the judges’ critiques to heart.I am a third generation art brat. Both my parents were artists. Their parents were artists and I went to graduate school. Being in a critique situation is not an unfamiliar one. I was raised that way.
Do you understand what the judges were saying about your dress? Do you agree?I didn’t agree with them. I felt very good about my dress. I liked my dress. What I guess they don’t realize about me as a creator is I’ve already done all the things they suggested in my career as an artists already. I’ve done the way out there fantastical fairy look. … I did an entire sugar-lace encrusted woman who was completely naked with hand-cast sugared wings. I’ve done at least seven to 25 versions of that. … So why would I do the same one over again?
How do you feel about your new fame?We were in Lubbock, Texas and this woman comes up to us in Wal-Mart while we were getting salad and she was like, “Oh my god. Oh my god. No! You’re not!” And that part of it, I’m still not really comfortable with — that whole putting you in a different place. My belief system is that we’re all born the same . . . We’re all divine. We’re all equal. But she said, “I keep relating to you because you’re the kid nobody wants to talk to, but in the end everybody respects.” That’s a great thing to really get to be. I have always been that, so I’m glad there are relating to that part of my personality. –Brian Orloff
Photo: Mitch Haaseth/Bravo