If you hadn't heard, I applied to Project Runway for the second time this year! Yay! I applied last year and didn't make it through to the next round, but this year I received an email of congratulations three days after I submitted my application. Needless to say I was so excited. Lots of young designers aspire to get onto the design competition show, Project Runway, and that day I felt just a lick closer to that dream.
Its funny how things turn out despite things standing in your way. Last year, I had a stable income, was living at home with my parents, and had a months notice to submit the tediously long application, portfolio, and video. This year I hadn't even thought about applying, because I was planning to stay in Istanbul for the whole year. Because of the violence and my health getting bad, I came back early. I got an email from the casting people saying there was ten days left to apply, my brain kicked into panic mode!
I already had lots of professional photographs taken (thanks Steve, Tim, Sue, and Emajhn) over this past year, all I needed was a video. I snagged some help from a willing friend, borrowed my dad's ancient video camera, and headed to downtown Detroit to shoot the film. It was quick, raw, and real. I had fun shooting it and I think you can tell. Watch the video and tell me what you think!
The email told me that on Friday, April 14th I was to come to the James Hotel in Chicago for an interview at 2:45. I rented a motel the night before outside the city, and drove in early that day to scout the place out. I got to the hotel right on time, and was shown to a lobby where there were other designers with their racks of clothes. I walked in with my garment bag slung over my shoulder with a confident stride, and started hanging up my garments. I felt proud that for the first time in my life, I wasn't comparing myself to anyone, and felt secure and happy with the work I was presenting.
I was actually the last person to be interviewed, and they had been running late. It was about an hour past when I was originally supposed to be seen, but I didn't mind. I was having fun talking to all the other designers, there were three I met from Michigan. Two female twins caught my eye- one feminine girl with long brown hair, and the other a rocker girl with a shaved head. They both sported bright pink lips and septum piercings.
When it was my time, I walked in already knowing who the judges were, I had scouted it out by asking the other designers. I knew that in the middle was my idol, the designer Mondo Guerra who was a runner-up on Season 8 of Project Runway. I had seen him back in the day and was in awe of his pattern mixing abilities. He was the one who inspired me to have confidence in my pattern mixing and was instrumental in shaping a big part of my design aesthetic to this day. Needless to say my heart was pounding and I was laser focused on not screwing up anything. I walked in there with good posture and my head high.
It was a huge room. I looked around as I wheeled my metal clothing rack onto the tape spot marked on the carpet. I was supposed to stand in one spot but I walked forward and shook first a woman's hand, then Mr. Guerra himself, then another woman. I had the opportunity to shake his hand, and said "Big fan". That, by itself, made the trip for me. While I was presenting my work, he smiled and nodded, and was just as nice as he always seemed on T.V. When I was done, the three judges had nothing but positive words to say about me and my work. Mondo said I seemed fearless, and that I would intimidate contestants on the show. I took that as a huge compliment. The point all three judges could agree on was that I was young. Young and determined, but still a fresh designer. That weekend was amazing, but that evening after my interview I was called back and they wished me good luck for applying next year.
Even though I didn't make it in, I still felt this un-penetrable high, a drive, a thirst that can't ever get quenched. I thought that maybe I was meant to struggle to build this business from the ground up, like most people have to. Getting onto T.V would make it too easy. The grind, the struggle, and the failures all teach me important lessons. I'd like to personally thank the three judges for saying no to me, because you re-lit my flame and gave me a goal for next year. I'm coming for you, you haven't seen the last of me for sure.
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