Two Austin Designers Compete on Project Runway Season 18

It should be no surprise that when the executives for the Emmy-winning television series “Project Runway” need to cast designers, they tap into the Lone Star State to get some Texas-sized drama and talent for the show.

Celestino Design — photo Cheryl Bemis

More than 200 designers from all around the world have competed over 17 seasons. That includes 14 Texans, with the city of Dallas, including nearby suburb Richardson walking away with the most cast members at seven.

Houston designer Chloe Dao was the Season 2 winner. Anthony Ryan Auld of Linden, Samantha Plancia of San Antonio, and Lindsey Creel of Austin all competed in the series.  Former designers, Daniel Esquivel and Louise Black who listed Dallas as their hometowns, now reside in Austin.

For Season 18, of the 16 total designers for the show, two call Austin home.  They will compete for the $250,000 top prize along with other generous winnings.  Christian Siriano, Brandon Maxwell, Nina Garcia and Elaine Welteroth continue as the show’s judges.

Austin designers Brittany Allen and Sergio Guadarrama and a shout out to Houston designer Alan Gonzalez are going to represent Texas well with their Texas-sized creativity and talent this season.    It will be exciting to see the new designs sewn by all three designs as they have shown previous collections on Austin runways and were always well received.

Project Runway designer
Sergio Guadarrama — (Photo by Barbara Nitke/Bravo)

Sergio Guadarrama was born in Austin and he spent his early years with his family in Mexico.   They eventually returned to the states and put roots in Cedar Park, Texas where he attended Cedar Park High School.

Guadarrama immersed himself in their limited creative arts curriculum but post-graduation is where his creativity took flight.    He attended both FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles and FIT/Fashion Institute of  Technology in New York City.

Guadarrama describes his design aesthetic as classic modern with a twist, mixed with inspirations from the world around him to make it better.

Two years out of FIT and with a few collections under his belt, Sergio’s design career got a big bump when he got a big break.   Kanye Wests’ former girlfriend, actress and model Amber Rose closed his 2009 Celestino show.  Guadarrama continues to create haute couture styled garments that are exquisitely designed for his high profile clientele.

Guadarrama and his partner Kade split home base between NYC and Austin.  While in ATX Sergio has frequently donated his time judging the University of Texas design class designs providing them analysis and constructive direction for their end of year collections.

“I can offer the students a real-life perspective of what the industry is like, especially for smaller designers”, said Guadarrama.   A trip back to Guardarrama’s high school alma mater is planned soon to talk to their fashion design class.

Humanitarian efforts are a key focus element for the Celestino brand and feel that the Project Runway platform is only enhancing his voice regarding some of the world’s issues going on right now.  “Creative people are the people who are going to make a difference in the world because we do think out of the box”, Guadarrama said.

Celestino Fall/Winter 2019 Collection    Celestino Spring/Summer 2020 Collection

Brittany Allen — (Photo by Barbara Nitke/Bravo)

Austin designer Brittany Allen is a relatively new talent to the Austin design scene.  A Fort Smith, Arkansas native, and a University of Arkansas graduate, she had early design jobs freelancing and was the lead cowboy boot designer Acumen Designs.

Allen and her husband moved to Austin in 2015 and she worked for Austin-based company Trunkist, and for Los Angeles-based company, Between Ten.

Currently, Allen works as a pattern maker and computer-aided designer for Understated Leather, which provides designs to Resolve, Urban Outfitters and Free People.  Allen teaches at Art Institute of Austin and will soon receive her doctorate degree in Apparel, Merchandising and Design from Iowa State.

Brittany showed her first collection at the 2016 Austin Fashion Week and she just premiered her Spring 2020 collection at the Fashion For Good event in November.

The new collection titled “Progression” represents Allen’s journey as a designer.   The all pink garments began with the lightest shade of blush pink and each piece got darker eventually ending with a dark neon magenta piece.    “It has taken a long time for me to find what my “design aesthetic is and this collection represents that, added Allen.

Fashion Show in Austin
Brittany Allen Designs — Photo Cheryl Bemis

Brittany has been a longtime fan of Project Runway and was thrilled to be a part of the show with Christian Sirano as a mentor.   After designing under her own label for several seasons, the thought of auditioning for the show got stronger.

“I got to a point with my brand that I wanted to showcase my designs and get it out to the public and I thought Project Runway would be a perfect platform for that’, she said.

See Brittany’s Spring collection here!

Fashion show
Amanda Valentine design — Photo Cheryl Bemis

So what is it like to be a cast member of Project Runway?   Seasoned veteran Amanda Valentine knows all about that after competing on Season 11, 13 and one season of Project Runway All-Stars.

“I was just terrified”, said Valentine.  “It’s literally impossible for you to prepare cause you never know how people are going to respond to your personality”, added Valentine.

With the magic of lights, cameras and editing the entire world will get to watch our hometown designers become a part of television fashion history.  After all with two Austin designers in the show, the odds are in our favor for a big ole Texas win y’all!


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