Black Voices: How has the first couple of weeks been after winning the show?
Jeffrey Williams: People are taking pictures of me on the street a lot more now. It hasn't been weird; it's actually comforting. Everyone is so positive, they only say really sweet things. I could be walking around a little bit bummed because I had a long day or something and someone will come up and be like "oh my God you were so great on the show," so it's really great.
BV: In what ways did the experience of the competition prepare you for what's to come?
JW: I feel like everything helped prepare me. My mom invested so much into me and she really praised my talents, which were so natural and so effortless, so it was almost like it was okay to just be normal - my normal. That was a huge part that really helped me through the process. Plus, when you live in New York, everyone is in a rat race; everyone is working really hard and everyone has a goal, which is great. So going to school in New York really prepared me. Also, moving to Italy and learning different cultures, just traveling around really helped me to just slow down to see I can get stuff done in a good amount of time and still be able to relax.
BV: Did anything interesting happen behind the scenes that didn't make it on camera?
JW: There is a lot that you don't see. They literally film us from when we open our eyes to when we close our eyes. There is so many things that you don't see, it's wild.
JW: You just go with it. Everything that I did on there was natural and organic so if I did say something that was terrible or came off weird, I still said it, regardless of how it was used. I didn't get to see the full show beforehand; I wish. I had a viewing party each week with close friends to watch each episode.
BV: How was it watching seeing yourself on the finale episode?
JW: The finale was like the Super Bowl. I had a huge party at my friend's restaurant. I was so emotional. There was a point when time stopped, I couldn't even hear the cheering, I couldn't hear anything.
BV: Do you remember what went through you head when you were announced as the winner?
JW: It was just such a relief. I kept telling myself 'you're going to win.' When I went into the first auditio,n I told myself that I wanted to win this show, as everyone does. But there was just something deep inside of me. I'm very competitive and when I say it I really feel like I've just gotta do it. My mom always taught me where there's a will there's a way, and I felt like when I got there I had a will and I had a way. My confidence was always challenged, but at the end of the day I just knew what I wanted.
JW: Fashion plays a major role in everyone's life, you choose to look how you want to look and I like that aspect of that.
BV: What advice would you give aspiring designers who may be considering next seasons show?
JW: I think you just have to go with your gut. Always trust yourself. Remind yourself where you've been, where you want to be and where you are right now and you can do almost anything because you know what you want and what steps you need to take. Always be present in your life in the now moment. Remember that if you really want it, you can really have it. Don't ever take no for an answer. If someone tells you know, ask that person for three other people who may say yes.
JW: Nicole Richie, Alex Chung, Michelle Obama, really just any confident woman who really enjoys fashion and being happy. I would love to design for Iman and Mary J. Blige too. Mary J. Blige is known for being so inspirational, living such a colorful life and and always coming out on top. You really notice that; she's very humble and down to earth. All of the responses that she had about my clothes were so positive. You can tell that she really knows what she's talking about and that she's worked with a lot of big designers.
I'm going to have a small feature in the March issue of Harper's Bazaar, and Mary J. Blige offered to wear my clothes for the piece (for the full story, go to harpersbazaar.com/jeffrey). That wasn't part of the prize. I was supposed to have a model, but she showed up and offered to wear my clothes for the shoot. I just could not believe it. She as just so warm and just we got to dance in the studio, it was really great to be able to share that experience with her. It was very humbling, it's wild.
BV: Who would be your ideal designer to collaborate with?
JW: Oh my God there are so many. Paul Poiret, I loved Alexander McQueen, right now I would love to work for Givenchy - that would be amazing. Alber Elbaz for Lanvin - you can tell that he really loves women in the way that he designs, and he really is kind and forgiving to women. That is something very important in women's wear - letting women know that they can trust you and that you are on their side. He does that so well. I would love to be in his presence and learn anything from him and work with him. I also love Miuccia Prada; she's always very modern, she has her own voices, comes up with her own fabrics and she's just incredible. I think it would be fun to work with John Galliano or Karl Lagerfeld, working under them and learning whatever I can from them.
BV: What's next on your agenda?
JW: I'm still designing, still consulting. I already showed my fall collection on TV, so right now I'm preparing for the next step. I may do a few pieces here and there, but right now I'll be focusing on spring. I'm still very young and there is still a lot more to show and a lot more to see. I feel so blessed to have been able to show a part of my life on TV. I'm excited for the next chapter. This is way more than I've ever had, but it's a small step. I feel like I've gotten to plant my little seed I will be growing my tree now.
See what Jeffrey is up to next on his blog: http://heregoheavencome.tumblr.com/