Editor’s note: This interview originally ran in the October 2016 issue of Detroit City Limits. We are running it again in honor of Glover being chosen to compete on Season 6 of Project Runway All Stars. Glover was chosen as one of the top three designers in the first episode but went on to be eliminated in Episode Six, when the challenge was to design a dress for cartoon character Betty Boop.
Designer Char Glover, a finalist on season 13 of the reality TV show “Project Runway,” has moved to Los Angeles, Calif., but her heart is still with her hometown of Detroit.
Full of twists and turns, Glover has described season 13 as “a roller coaster” in interviews. She was eliminated in episode six but accepted it with grace, saying she was grateful for the opportunity. “I hope I showed the world that Detroit has amazing talent, a strong spirit, and good character. It’s a city that never stops, and I’m a product of that,” she said after her elimination. However, in a surprise move, the show’s co-host and the designers’ mentor used his “Tim Gunn save” – an opportunity once per season to bring back an eliminated designer – on Glover. Glover went on to make it to fashion week, though ultimately another contestant won the top prize.
Detroit City Limits caught up with Glover to talk about her experience on the show and what she’s been up to since then.
DCL: What did you do before Project Runway and how did you get on Season 13 (aired 2014-2015 on Lifetime)?
Glover: I was already a working designer. I had a clothing line for 15 years, and I dressed a couple of celebrities. Before that, I did hair. I’m still a licensed cosmetologist. I’m a Project Runway fan first and foremost. I was an avid watcher. I actually applied for it three times, and the third time was the charm.
DCL: There was some competitiveness and back-stabbing on the show, but it seemed like you were determined to keep things positive.
Glover: You have 16 people going for one prize, so you know people are going to get a little testy. Designers are all passionate, and you’re fighting for your voice to be heard. I kept repeating the same thing to myself: “I’m a designer before the show, I’m a designer afterward.” I believe how I behaved on the show was consistent with who I was.
DCL: Tim Gunn seems like a warm and caring person on the show, a great person to have as a mentor. Was he really that sweet in person?
Glover: He’s exactly how you think he would be, very warm, passionate, nurturing. Tim was originally a teacher, so I believe that’s why you’re seeing that nurturing, caring spirit. You feel that as soon as you meet him. On the first day filming, everybody was nervous and had the butterflies. Tim Gunn walks in the room, and he walked up and greeted everyone by name. It makes you feel warm and welcome.
DCL: During the show, you had an opportunity to go to Rome. What was that like?
Glover: An experience like that stretches you, especially with me being a Detroiter born and raised. There are certain things don’t think you’ll ever accomplish. Rome blew my mind. It basically showed me my possibilities, that anything is possible.
DCL: What are you doing now? I saw that you had a couple of YouTube video series. Are you going to continue with that?
Glover: I’m a YouTube slacker, but it’s something I want to revisit in the future. Since Project Runway, I’ve been focusing on Rockn Remix, my new line. I also started a sister label called Char Glover. Rockn Remix is street style, and Char Glover is high end.
DCL: I heard you were leaving Detroit.
Glover: I lived in L.A. for a year and a half, and then came home to Detroit for a while before Project Runway. But I moved back to L.A. in December 2015, and I’m getting my stuff into a showroom there. I like the L.A. lifestyle, the weather, and the networking opportunities. There are so many fabric resources, and there are chances to dress celebrities. I felt it was time to switch it up, stir the pot. I said to myself: Detroit, you’ve had 39 years of my life. I did come back to Michigan Sept. 18 for a pop-up shop at Blue Jean Blues in Royal Oak, though.
DCL: Speaking of Detroit, what do you appreciate about the city?
Glover: One of the things I wanted to do on Project Runway is create a positive portrayal of Detroit. It can get a bad rap sometimes, but I wanted to be a reflection of goodness, spirit, and fight. Growing up in Detroit definitely builds your resilience. When I think of Detroit, I think “tough,” not in a bad way, but as in “strength.” I feel like Detroit is home, is family, is love. It’s the Motor City, and it has such a rich history, and such great music. I’m honored to be from a city with that rich history. Detroit has amazing people, first and foremost. Detroit is transitioning, resurging, transforming, and that’s the best time to be a part of something. Detroit has a spirit, and no matter where I’m at, people sense that I’m a Detroiter. I think it’s a certain way we carry ourselves, a certain flare. I’m a proud Detroiter. No matter where in the world I am, I always represent Detroit.
DCL: Besides your Facebook page, where else can we find more updates about you and your designs online?
Glover: Rocknremix.com and charglover.com.
~Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in southeast Michigan. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.