Top Project Runway Designer Names Show at Austin Fashion Week

Written by:  Sydney Mahl
It’s all too easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of a new season of Project Runway, as with it
comes a new favorite, a new villain, a new star.  Many of the reality show’s top names came to Austin to delight the crowd with their amazing collections.  How fun it was to see how our favorite faces on tv showed their designs on our hometown runway.
Since this was my first time covering Austin Fashion Week, and being a huge PRW, it was not only fun to meet my favorite designers, but as a reporter I wanted to find out what’s next for the designers when the show ends.  Here’s the backstage scoop!
DSC_6232Jeffrey Sebelia
Known for: Winner of Season 3 / Project Runway All-Stars
How Project Runway (PR) affected him: “I don’t know because that experience was a lot like
how I started. When I started I was hand-making stuff myself and I eventually moved into
designing and making much bigger lines that other people are making now.”
On the design process: “It just flows; I’ve been a designer for almost 15 years now, so it better
flow at that point.”
Sean Kelly
Known for: Winner of Season 13
How PR affected him: “It definitely freed up kind of the design process into being way more
quick, rapid fire. I used to use a lot more time pattern making and I can move a lot more faster
through my ideas, which definitely helps. The time frame and reality of the show isn’t actually
how anyone should actually work in the industry.”
On his collection inspiration: “I kind of started off looking at 70s cults, particularly Jonestown, but it kind of moved away from that and it became more about isolation and kind of these tropical
places, so it was kind of a weird research journey about that.”
DSC_6565Daniel Esquivel
Known for: Final 4 Designer on Season 11 / Project Runway All-Stars
How PR affected him: “Actually what it is, this is like a new beginning, just stepping forward and owning up and buying my own materials and doing everything myself. It’s a struggle, it’s not easy, everybody thinks it’s easy.”
On his favorite pieces: “The pleated skirt with the turtleneck, the alpaca wool skirt with the turtleneck, Oh my God, that was one of my favorites and you know what’s so funny is that the model when she put it on she was like, ‘Oh, my God.’”
Austin Fashion Week Gallery Photos Here!
Korto Momolu
Known for: Finalist on Season 5 / Project Runway All-Stars
How PR affected her: “I mean you learn so much on that show. I learned definitely a lot about
runway, you know it’s called Project Runway for a reason, but you know from Michael Kors and
Nina Garcia talking about what you start a collection with and what you end it with; your first and
last piece are always supposed to be really amazing because that’s what people for some
reason always remember.”
On her collection inspiration: “My collection is actually called ‘Dark Cloud, Silver Lining’ and it’s
actually just inspired by the fact I decided I’m not gonna show in New York for awhile. I’m taking
a break, we’re breaking up and just closing that chapter of my life, so I wanted the collection to
kind of reflect that, you know a storm coming and a curtain closing.”
DSC_8419Michelle Lesniak
Known for: Winner of Season 11 / Project Runway All-Stars
How PR affected her: “I am fast as sh*t. I did that collection in a week, so yeah I got real fast,
real quick.”
On what she needs after AFW: “A drink and a nap.”
Amanda Valentine
Known for: Finalist on Season 13
How PR affected her: “Project Runway is probably the reason I can make a collection in a week.  I really learned how to trust my gut and make fast decisions. It just really taught me what my
priorities are design-wise.”
On her target audience: “I feel like a lot of different kinds of women can wear it, and that’s what I’m obsessed with.  I’m obsessed with designing dresses that a 20 year old or a 60 year old, or
a size 2 or a size 14 can wear, you know, I want to dress all of the women.”
Other Project Runway designers who participated were Gunnar Deatherage, Samantha Palencia, and Melissa Fleis.
Thank you designers for sharing your collections in Austin and hope y’all come back real soon.

Gunnar Deatherage
Melissa Fleis
Samantha Plascencia

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