What do you get when you cross one straight male fashion designer-complete with Greek God good looks-with six equally attractive future fashion mavens? A whole lot of drama. At least when recorded (and edited) for posterity and 18-to-34-year-old demos for SOAPnet's Summer 2007 docusoap The Fashionista Diaries.
I recently caught up with Andrew Kanakis, the lone "fashionisto" on the series. The good-natured, Philadelphia-bred Kanakis talked to Daytime Confidential about his experiences on the reality show, including what it was like to compete for a cushy editorial gig, first at the now-defunct Jane magazine and later at CosmoGIRL!, his "will they or won't they" showmance with co-star and then-roommate Bridget Helene, what projects the talented designer has been working on since the show taped its last episode and if there will be a second season of the reality show and how Tyra Banks factored into the equation.
Daytime Confidential: Hey Andrew, how's it going?
Andrew Kanakis: Pretty good man.
DC: Thanks for agreeing to do the interview; I was a big fan of The Fashionista Diaries.
AK: No problem! It's my pleasure.
DC: How did you get selected for the show?
AK: I was bored one day at work and a friend forwarded me an email notice that some producers were holding auditions for a reality show about the fashion industry.
DC: Where were you working?
AK: I was an associate designer for Kenneth Cole.
AK: So I went down to ABC Studios on my lunch break and auditioned and ended up being picked for the show.
DC: I read that you initially studied industrial design at Philadelphia University, but took fashion electives to meet girls. Did you ever expect fashion would become your passion?
AK: (Laughs) Well in fashion design courses the ratio of women to men was pretty much in my favor, but really I didn't want to take useless electives and I come from a creative background so I thought, "Let's see what this fashion thing is all about". Once I got into the class and became involved in the Sophomore Year Fashion Show I was blown away at the incredible amount of work that was involved and I decided that this [fashion] was what I wanted to pursue.
DC: Since actual fashion design is your passion as opposed to fashion editorial, it seemed like the odds were sort of stacked against you on The Fashionista Diaries in regards to landing a spot at Jane or CosmoGIRL!.
AK: Yeah, well originally I was supposed to go to 7th House [the public relations firm where Bridget Helene, Nicole Amendolare and later Laurie Hugill competed for a position], which would have been great because I would have been doing PR for fashion shows and events and getting to meet designers. But I ended up being placed at the magazines and of course Rachel [Jacoby]'s background was in editorial so she had sort of an advantage. But you know what, all of those fields, whether it be PR or editorial or design are related to a career in fashion, so they were all relevant.
DC: What was it like to work with Rachel?
AK: Rachel is a really cool girl. Whenever I was down about something she would always pick me up and vice versa.
DC: Alright well you know we couldn't talk about your time on The Fashionista Diaries without talking about Bridget.
AK: (Laughs) Oh yeah!
DC: We definitely saw some chemistry between the two of you. What was it like being the show's "It" couple?
AK: Well you know, it's a TV show and the audience wants sex. You want a love story. Not to say there wasn't anything going on, but it was weird for something to happen one way and then I'm looking at it three months later and it is totally different than how it actually happened.
DC: I thought it was messed up how they tried to make you look like a dog for asking Laurie out, when Bridget had sort of played you hot and cold the whole time.
AK: (Laughs) I know! Then I found out she had a boyfriend the whole time!
DC: Who had a boyfriend? Laurie?
AK: No Bridget.
DC: Oh wow!
AK: There was drama, we all had our dramas. All three groups had different producers sort of talking to each other about what the other groups were doing and that added to the drama a bit. But what do you expect with one straight guy and five attractive women?
DC: So what have you been up to since the show ended?
AK: Well, I've been doing a lot of different things. I started teaching full-time at FIT [The Fashion Institute of Technology] and at another school. I have also been working on my own line of high end costume jewelry. I use only the best materials, such as Swarovski crystal and Onyx. I've sold a few pieces. The next step is to take it to market. I've also been working on a clothing label and that actually happened because of The Fashionista Diaries, a couple of girls from Bahrain saw me on the show and wanted me to design a collection for their first season for the U.S. Market.
DC: What's the name of the line?
AK: It's called Hyperion.
DC: When can we look for it?
AK: It should premiere in the Fall of 2009.
DC: So will the collection be couture or Ready-to-Wear?
AK: It will be Ready-to-Wear. There will be some evening dresses, but the collection will be the type of items you would find in Bloomingdale's or Macy's.
DC: Wow, that's awesome. So what about the girls? Do you keep in touch with them?
AK: I saw Rachel before Christmas. I haven't seen the others that much, but we do keep in touch through an email chain that goes around to all of us. Rachel is working in editorial; Janjay [Sherman] is still at Beauty Bank, which is brand of Flirt Cosmetics; Tina [Patient] works for an event-planning firm, Laurie's at Allison and Broad Public Relations and Bridget is temping at Teen Vogue.
DC: What about Nicole? Did any of you guys keep in touch with her after she left after the first couple of episodes?
AK: No I can't say that I have. She sort of went on her own separate path.
DC: So what about a second season of The Fashionista Diaries? Have you heard anything?
AK: I've heard different things. There were rumors that there would be a second season and that we [the original cast] would be brought back. Then word on the street was they would be using a whole new cast or that the show was being sold to another network, so who knows? It was speculated that SOAPnet might have had some sort of confict with the concept for the new Tyra Banks' show.
DC: Are you talking about Stylistas [A new reality show coming to The CW next season]?
AK: Yeah, I initially heard they were planning to call it something related to Fashionistas and then ironically it changed to Stylistas or something like that.
DC: Cool, well if SOAPnet is rumored to have stepped in about the name of Tyra's show maybe that means they are interested in doing a second season of The Fashionista Diaries?
AK: Maybe? I guess we'll just have to wait and see!