NEW YORK -- Buttoned-down, he's not.
With his sugary Southern drawl and hair-raising style, Anthony Ryan Auld is one of the standout personalities on the current season of Project Runway All Stars (Thursdays, Lifetime, 9 p.m. ET/PT). And he's the winner of the show's first-ever interactive challenge: Take a photo submitted by a fan and design an outfit inspired by it and USA TODAY's visual storytelling.
Auld's sleek fitted blue, black and white above-the-knee dress, which called to mind the designs of Narciso Rodriguez, captivated the show's two regular judges, Georgina Chapman and Isaac Mizrahi, and two guests, Charlotte Ronson and fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson. It also landed him the grand prize: A feature in USA TODAY.
"This is one of the biggest things that's ever happened to me at this point in my career," an invigorated Auld said backstage after his win. "It's one of the biggest things I've ever gotten to win."
The 29-year-old from Baton Rouge says he was drawn to his reader-submitted photo because he "loved the linear aspects… you could tell it was something that was built, in the way that you build a life, so that's what drew me to the picture." The headline he selected for the photo was fitting: "Always looking forward."
He explains: "For me personally, I've had a lot of experiences that I could be very bitter and angry about , but I've just kind of learned that in the end it's not healthy."
And to Auld, a testicular cancer survivor, health is of utmost importance.
"One of the things I got from my cancer experience is to be appreciative for every day that you're given," he says. "Just the little things in the day. Regardless of if you get to have 10 minutes with your grandmother for the day or you get to call your mom and say I love you. You really have to take those and enjoy them."
And that's exactly what he's doing. Auld has started a "fashion driven movement" called ROCKONE1 that helps make fashion dreams come true for cancer victims and their friends and family. From taking them shopping to creating a custom garment, Auld wants to give back.
"Fashion gave me a positive mind-set, so I want to bring that to other people. I'm not just going to give the money for research, or give them the money to do it themselves. I want to do it with them," he says.
What's next design-wise for Auld on All-Stars?
"I'm going to show (the judges) a couple of things that I haven't done. You know, I don't work typically with a lot of flowy and bias cut. So I know I'm going to bring them that. I haven't really got to show them a gown yet. I have a different take on gowns. I want to keep pushing," he says.
Fans will have to wait until the season finale on Jan. 17 to find out if the pushing pays off. In the meantime, Auld isn't worrying.
"I came in with no expectations. I came in here just to show the world who I am a little bit more," he says. "I haven't really thought about what winning (the season) would mean....I can't let myself think about it because I'm so grateful to be here, to think about what it would mean to win would only set me up for disappointment and I have no reason to be disappointed."
Win or lose, Auld plans to continue his foundation, and pursue more fashion opportunities in his native Louisiana.
"I will still be paving the road for myself in the South, because there's not a whole lot of opportunities, so I kind of still have to make them," he explains.
How about a move to the U.S. fashion capital of New York?
"The opportunity would have to present itself in the end."
At least he's on the right track.