During his stint on last season's "Project Runway," the bearded, military-capped Santino Rice easily earned his reputation as the most wild, sarcastic and primetime-ready fashion designer of the bunch.
So when MTV News' SuChin Pak was looking for a slightly more under-the-radar designer to create a one-of-a-kind dress for the 2006 MTV Movie Awards, she sought out the ambitious, Los Angeles-based "Runway" finalist. "I probably wouldn't commission him to make my wedding gown," she said. "But for something fun and over-the-top, I immediately thought of Santino."
Days after she approached him, Rice signed on. "SuChin is really cool, sexy and smart," he said. "Those are definitely qualities that I look for when I'm collaborating with somebody."
The feeling was mutual. The pair spent countless hours debating satin or silk before Pak chose one of Rice's three proposed sketches for the final project. "There were lots of initial conversations," she said. "He'd fax me drawings and I'd have him describe the texture and color." After taking notes on Pak's suggestions — short, colorful and sexy — Rice promptly flew in fabric from Paris.
"The base of the dress is made up of three layers," he explained. "It's silk duchess, chiffon and lace on top. Then it has these sunburst pleats that start from the bust and gradually flare down to the bottom."
Before settling in to sew "the shortest dress SuChin has ever worn," Rice met face-to-face with his muse in Los Angeles. Both stars were relieved after they immediately hit it off during their first powwow. "He's so gracious," Pak enthused. "I told him that he's spoiled me now because he's just such a pleasure to work with!"
Rice was equally enthusiastic after he met Pak. "She could look great in a paper sack," he said. "She's got beautiful skin, great legs and an awesome body. She can basically wear anything."
Luckily for her, she won't have to. When Pak hit the red carpet Thursday (June 8), viewers finally caught a glimpse of her strapless corset mini-dress. The thigh-grazing number — which Rice whipped up while blaring David Bowie, Hall & Oates and Ministry in the background — is every bit as flamboyant and playful as its fun-loving designer. "We decided on a really punchy fuchsia because SuChin wears color really well," said Rice. "I was definitely inspired by the event."