Chloe Dao Wins 'Project Runway'

Associated Press
Thursday, March 9, 2006

NEW YORK, March 8 -- In a surprise victory, Chloe Dao was crowned the winner of Bravo's "Project Runway" in the fashion-competition show's finale Wednesday night.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Dao directed some sharp words at fellow finalist Santino Rice, who had questioned her design pedigree during a tense elimination round. He had told her he thought she was a "brilliant patternmaker" but an average designer.

"I can only say that I guess you're wrong!" Dao, 34, shot back in the recent interview. "I can't help it if I had skills, honey."

Dao snagged the title after she, Rice and Daniel Vosovic, considered the favorite, staged presentations during New York Fashion Week last month.

"I'm still shocked that I was chosen," said Dao, who has a patternmaking degree and 13 years of design experience.

The Houston native wowed supermodel-host Heidi Klum and judges Michael Kors, Nina Garcia and Debra Messing with her elegant runway collection, which she called her "baby."

Dao receives $100,000 in seed money to help launch her own fashion line and a mentorship from the Banana Republic design team, according to the show's Web site.

Dao said she plans to stay in Houston, where she hopes to expand her successful boutique, Lot 8, and design her own line.

"It's about me figuring out how to do this right, where I can balance having a life also," said Dao, who was 8 when her family moved to the United States from Laos.

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