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Tommy Hilfiger On 'Idol': How He Worked With Contestants Despite Conflict

Thu, March 29, 2012 5:06pm EDT by Katrina Mitzeliotis 2 Comments
Tommy Hilfiger American Idol

The esteemed designer was so patient with the contestants, even when they totally disregarded his opinion — read on to find out what Tommy had to say about his ‘Idol’ experience!

When it comes to creating an image and producing a successful brand, no one knows better than designer Tommy Hilfiger — and we were so excited to see him on American Idol, lending his expertise to the contestants! While most people would love to take advice from the talented designer, many of the Idol contestants didn’t want to listen to him — and we were shocked! Tommy, however, was very gracious throughout the process.

So do you anticipate this style advice you are giving the contestants to continue from week to week till the end of the season?
“It’s all about style advice or image advice. That is what they need and is needed, but now that the contestants are becoming more competitive with each other, they are now realizing the importance of style packaged with their talent. I think before it was just about being a great singer and being competitive enough to compete, but now what? I think now they’re facing their individual style challenges.”

Do you find yourself not watching the show so you don’t have a favorite and that would then steer your advice in a certain way?
“When I can, I watch the show and I want to learn as much about them as possible, because I think it helps me from an advisory standpoint. Even though they don’t have to take my advice, not all of them do, but now I think more of them are more prone to take my advice than before. I think they were afraid and timid before, I think now they are more, “What do you think of this?” “What if I want to do this?””

On that note, Phillip Phillips and a few others went with their own thing. Phillip stayed with wearing gray and went totally against your advice and your vision, your thoughts on that?
“Well that is what he wanted to do. I am an advocate of advising them, but whatever they want to do I want them to realize the importance of having an image that is uncommon. I think more than anything, it’s most important for their careers. They shouldn’t listen to someone dictate what they should wear, I think that’s wrong. I think they should generally take advice if they feel it’s necessary. Phillip didn’t take the advice but did a great job performing, and now he is thinking more of what he could possibly be and what he should wear in the future.”

Now if someone has an idea that is completely out of the box do you try to attempt to rear them back into the real world?
“Imagine somebody told Lady Gaga to step back, that she would fall on her face if she became outrageous on stage. If she listened she wouldn’t be where she is, so I am one for promoting creative personal style. I would like them to figure it out on their own — that’s what they should be doing. I would love to give them a lot of choices and say they can do this or that, but when someone has their own sense of style they own it. Then they will be able to evolve and tweak it over time, but if they were to listen to a stylist that said you have to wear that, then the next performance when the stylist isn’t around then what do they do? You really have to go at it like teaching someone who is learning to ride a bicycle. They wobble at first, and they fall off and then pretty soon they get it. I think that is what is going to happen. I think it’s almost like a farmer planting seeds, you watch a sprout come up and you water it a little more and it grows a little bit more and I think that is what is going to happen. I don’t want to come off as a know-it-all, but mark my words by the last couple of weeks it will be so competitive that the fashion and the style and the image will become paramount. They know that they have to compete against each other in talent and song but they really have to look out for one another. Because it’s a whole new ballgame.”

Looks like some of the Idols like Jessica seemed to have an easier time with you, who currently gets it?
“I think the girls are easier than the guys, let’s start with that. They are really more open and like fashion. Guys are a little bit closed. But I think they are coming along. I think they are very interested in styling themselves and I think those that came with style in the beginning are now looking to up the game. I think its going to happen. It is happening. The sad part is they are rehearsing every single day and they don’t have a lot of time for this, so it becomes secondary but by the end I think it will become paramount.”

With all that you have done with fashion, is there hope to continue this with Idol as the seasons continue or would you like to move on to the next big thing?
“I enjoy doing it at this moment in time, but my life is full of evolution and lots of different things and following my heart and interests. Whether that be in art or fashion or music or fashion design. It always evolves. I will see how this goes, and then ask me in three months then I will know the answer!”

Reporting by Russ Weakland

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