Barbara Walters, Harold Ford, Jr. and Bravo’s Chris March

We could barely keep up with the steady stream of A-listers who poured into Michael’s today. When we arrived a little before noon, there was a handful of power brokers quietly hunkering down to business over their Cobb salads in the back of the room. By the time Bravo’s latest star, designer Chris March arrived with Jennifer Geisser, the network’s senior vice president of communications, and publicist Alana McElroy, there was a palpable party vibe in the dining room.  Late arrival Harold Ford, Jr. worked the room like nobody’s business while social swans Muffie Potter Aston and Suzanne Johnson doled out air kisses like they were candy.

While it was a little hard to hear over the chattering crowd, I thoroughly enjoyed dishing with Chris, whose new show, Mad Fashion, premiered Tuesday night on Bravo. Chris, you might recall was a finalist on Project Runway. (Christian Siriano was the winner that season). His quirky couture and good natured personality ( gotta love that laugh!) made him a fan favorite. Chris tells me when Bravo’s resident boy wonder, Andy Cohen, got wind he was shopping a show around, he got in touch with Chris and insisted Bravo see it first. The deal was done in a matter of days.

Unlike most of those ubiquitous Bravolebrities, Chris isn’t into the fame game. “I didn’t do either show to get famous,” he tells me. “I did it to get to do the type of work I wanted to do.” Things have worked out pretty well on that score. On the Wednesday before the I Heart Radio concert in Las Vegas, Chris got a call from Lady Gaga’s office requesting he make something fabulous for her appearance at the show. In less than a week, he delivered the studded motorcycle cape she wore on stage. “That wouldn’t have happened without being on television.” Maybe, but the guy has definitely got it.  This is the same man who made Meryl Streep‘s last Oscar dress at his kitchen table. His secret weapon: a drama-free attitude when dealing with people who live and die for style.

Chris says he warned the powers that be that he wasn’t into the cat fights that have become a Bravo signature. “I wanted to do a show that would be fun. I’ve worked with the same people for a long time and we all get along.” So much so that while taping on his birthday, producers had no choice but stand back and watch (and, of course, film) when Chris, his wig maker Izzie, and the rest of the gang decided to do an impromptu reanactment of the infamous table flipping episode on The Real Housewives of New Jersey. Chris donned a red wig and channeled Caroline Manzo while Izzy wore a dark wig pulled all the way down on her forehead to play Teresa Guidice. You can see how it all went down on next week’s episode or get a sneak peek now on Bravo’s website.

Having toiled as a hairdresser, stylist, chef and costume designer for Beach Blanket Babylon in his native San Francisco for 10 years, Chris has big plans for his first season of Mad Fashion. In upcoming episodes, he makes a Mardi Gras dress for actress Jennifer Coolidge (“You should see her house in New Orleans. It’s like a haunted mansion!”), fashions a dress from 200 bras for the digital launch of  Jene Luciani‘s The Bra Book, and even ventures into New Jersey to design something for ex-Housewife Dina Manzo. (She was never our favorite, but maybe Chris can lighten her up.)

Chris said he finds today’s red carpets “dull,” because celebs are afraid of the criticism of trying something different. “There aren’t a lot of places that celebrities can take chances. Maybe they can push it a little bit at the VMAs and the Grammys, and then they are criticized for being ‘too safe.'” His dream clients: Katy Perry, who seems like the perfect fit, and Mad Men‘s Christina Hendricks, who has had her share of fashion disasters. “She needs something special,” he advises. “You can’t take a person with an unusual shape and put her in something you can go out and buy. She needs custom undergarments and then design the dress over them. Then everything will fit perfectly.”