Month: July 2014

PROJECT RUNWAY SEASON 13 PREVIEW

The Project Runway Season 13 teaser is so flashy.  Are they too cool for school now?  We’ll see.  We plan on taking a deeper look into garment construction this season, and hope to share what we know about what we see this time around.  After all, what we like about the show is the focus on the craft of it all.  Make it WORK, people!  And good luck to all!  Live Tweet with us @ProjectMIW TONIGHT!

 

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How Justin LeBlanc Makes It Work

Photo by Curtis Brown

Justin LeBlanc

In Season 12 of Project Runway, the incredible batch of designers did not disappoint.  Shining in the forefront of the talented group was Justin LeBlanc, Assistant Professor in The College of Design at North Carolina State University.  Justin, who has interned with Alexander McQueen and Nick Cave, was a designer who demonstrated innovative style, and a fighting will to win.  Justin is no stranger to overcoming obstacles; he grew up without his sense of hearing.  Through a recent cochlear implant he has acquired hearing, but his developed sense of creating strong visuals was honed without the sense of sound, and we think this lends so much to Justin’s original aesthetic.  As a finalist in Season 12, Justin wowed the audience with his unconventional gown made of test tubes and his 3-D printed accessories.  It goes without saying that Justin’s designs inspire.  They inspire awe, creativity, inquisitiveness, and most of all, we know that they will inspire the future of fashion.

Photo by Curtis Brown

Test Tube Gown and 3-D Printed Accessory by Justin LeBlanc

HOW JUSTIN LEBLANC MAKES IT WORK

1.  Who are you, and what season/s did you participate in? 

My name is Justin LeBlanc, and I was on Season 12 of Project Runway. I was one of the top three finalists. 

2. Please give a brief description of your design style.

My design style focuses on the exploration of new materials and technologies ranging from the use of innovative materials, to 3-D printing. Through the use of technology, I am able to challenge the viewers as to what is considered to be the norm in fashion. 

I also utilize architectural and textural elements in my designs. You will always see interesting combinations of textiles and the use of shape and form in my garments. Intricate gathering and layering are characteristic of my garments. I also use patterns to accentuate the form of my garments.

Photo by Curtis Brown

Test Tube Gown and 3-D Printed Accessory By Justin LeBlanc

3.  What was the most challenging thing about the Project Runway experience BESIDES the challenges themselves?

The most challenging thing about Project Runway was the day-to-day schedule. It was grueling, both physically and emotionally. There was constant uncertainty about what the next day would bring, and very little time to create. It required a great deal of stamina and focus. You had to be at the top of your game without the support of friends and family, and in the midst of what was, at best, organized chaos. 

4.  Who have you met or worked with during or since the Project Runway experience that you are most proud of or excited about?

Well, that would have to be Tim Gunn. I haven’t spoken to him since the PR days but through his support in tough times, constructive criticism, constant respect, and endless encouragement, he made me a better designer and person. 

I have been able to channel my experience on Project Runway into what I love the most—designing and teaching and (I hope) challenging students. I learned a lot about designing and my abilities as I worked through each PR challenge. I learned through the failures and triumphs. I have also been able to reflect on that experience and use it to inspire my and challenge my students, and to share my experience with students in other universities. 

5.  What have you been working on, and what are you excited about professionally since Project Runway?

I’ve recently finished teaching the Spring semester at North Carolina State University. I also presented my recent Fall/Winter Collection 2014/15 at Charleston Fashion week, and more recently at a show in Houston. It has received wonderful reviews, and I can’t wait to show my next collection. I am currently working on my Spring/Summer 2015 collection, which will be my first solo show, debuting at the end of August.

6.  Besides the basics, what sewing notion or tool could you NEVER do without?

I could never live without my rulers!  I use them to plan the intricate layering and outlines of my garments. And of course, I want to make sure that I use the measurements needed to create the best fit for whomever wears my garments. 

7.  Is there anything else you’d like us to know or see?

If you want to keep up with me, make sure you follow me on Twitter and Instagram to get the latest news and events relating to my work at @JLeBlancDesign. Also, you will soon be able to buy products from my Fall/Winter Collection and 3-D printed items on JLeBlancDesign.com 

Photo by Curtis Brown

Justin LeBlanc

We’d like to thank Justin so very much for all of his generous input, and beautiful images.  We wish him the best of luck in everything he does in the future, and hope to stay in touch!  It has been a pleasure chatting with you, Justin! -C. Scott

All text and photo content provided by Justin LeBlanc, and photos credited to Curtis Brown, unless watermarked, linked, or specified.

 

Project Runway Season 13 Premieres THIS THURSDAY!

Project Runway Season 13 Cast

Project Runway Season 13 Cast

It’s almost that time again!  Time to cheer for your favorite designers and talk all the drama about off-the-wall designs and people coming together to “make it work”.  We are so excited to see what’s in store this season.  Live Tweet with us @ProjectMIW this Thursday at 9pm EST.

In tribute to the beginning of the season, we’ll be continuing with our “How They Make It Work” Interview series, starting with some beloved designers from Season 12!

Eliza Bennett’s Stitch in Time

Eliza Bennett's "A Woman's Work Is Never Done"

Eliza Bennett’s “A Woman’s Work Is Never Done”

This is one example of Eliza Bennett’s  “A Woman’s Work Is Never Done” series of embroideries on her own hand.  The stitches are meant to make the hands look more worn, representing the struggles of primarily female-centric, lower paid,  jobs of cleaning and caring.   Eliza Bennet received a BTEC National Diploma in art, with a focus on textiles. She also has a background in Fashion Design from Middlesex University.  She is London based.

The actual hand work and craft in this visually narrative series of literal “hand embroidery” is somewhat disturbing to look at, but intriguing and beautiful at the same time.  You can see more images of this series in Empty Kingdom’s feature on Miss Bennett.

Eliza’s series reminds us of a project from a couple of years back where we embroidered into a model’s skin and hands as a celebration of Canada Day.  When we created this image, were thinking of doing an entire series inspired by body embroidery, and Eliza’s work has made us think about going back to that early work, to make more of a statement about “suffering for fashion”.  Stay tuned!

 

Photo by Ben Trivett, Embroidery, Makeup by Coleen Scott

Canada Day Photo by Ben Trivett

 

 

 

How Oscar Lopez Makes It Work

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 Photo by Natasha Kertes

This Spring, Lifetime replaced a second annual season of Project Runway with it’s new fashion designer series, Under The Gunn, hosted by the incomparable, Tim Gunn.  We were skeptical at first, but after seeing the magical garment construction of Oscar Lopez, from Coral Gables, Florida, we were hooked.  Much to our delight, Oscar was the winner of Under The Gunn, and he’s been caught up in a whirlwind of work and exciting opportunities since then.   Just this month, he has replica garments from Under The Gunn being sold through show sponsor Francesca’s, and a feature shoot in Marie Claire magazine.  We had the opportunity to catch up with the very busy, and extremely gracious, Oscar for an EXCLUSIVE interview about his Under The Gunn experience, and what life is like after being crowned the next great fashion designer.

Ozcar G -1

Photo by Yobe Photography

HOW OSCAR LOPEZ MAKES IT WORK

1.  Who are you, and what season or show did you participate in?

My name is Oscar Lopez and I am the winner of the first season of Project Runway’s “Under the Gunn” series.

2.  Please give a brief description of your design style.

I am not much of a “ready-to-wear” kind of designer.  Although I do some, my design style is more evening wear, with ensembles that carry the wow factor, and that are elegant, chic, sexy, and glamorous at the same time.  I like the use of beautiful embroideries, sequins, and french laces.  Creating a plain and simple look is just not me.  I leave that for other designers!

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3.  What was the most challenging thing about the Under The Gunn experience BESIDES the challenges themselves?

The pressure and time constraint to design and execute a complete look in less than 8 hours. The fact that we weren’t allowed to have any kind of contact with anybody outside of the production team, meaning family or friends.  Being a bit sleep deprived after a while, due to so many hours of filming daily.

4.  Who have you met or worked with during or since Under The Gunn, that you are most proud of or excited about?

Rachel Roy, she is an extremely gentle, humble and sweet human being. I am very excited that she picked me to design her 2014 Met Gala gown, and a few other things that I can’t say for now.

Rachel Roy 1

Rachel Roy in her Oscar Lopez custom gown (and photos from Oscar’s studio) for the 2014 Met Gala.

5.  What have you been working on, and what are you excited about since Under The Gunn?

Working from Monday through Sunday!  Between the work, the trips, the interviews, the galas that I had already committed to prior to the show, the TV appearances, and everything else, it has become a bit overwhelming, but very happy at the same time.  Can’t wait for my Francesca’s collection to come out, and my Marie Claire Spread!

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Oscar’s winning runway design on Under The Gunn, and Francesca’s reproduction.

6.  Besides the basics, what sewing notion or tool could you NEVER do without?

My clothing care tailor’s ham.

7.  How has social media impacted your life after Under The Gunn?

Social media has always been an amazing outlet for my work, and from the moment I was announced as a participant on Under the Gunn the fans started to pile up.  It’s great to be able to interact with people across the US and abroad almost instantly, as they were watching the show.  Now that the show is done, a great amount of people continue to seek my work, and hire me as their designer through social media.  It is an excellent way of keeping in touch with those that admire my work, and in return I get to give them first hand account of what’s going on with me, and what I’m doing next.

8.  Is there anything else you’d like us to know or see?

Yes, that I thank very much and from the bottom of my heart, all the people, fans, and friends that followed me from the time the show first aired, till now.  Thank you for all the support and beautiful comments sent my way.  Thanks also for supporting me, and rooting for me all the way.  Thanks especially to my life partner.  Without him, this triumph wouldn’t be possible.

Watch out for my next surprises on Instagram and Twitter @realoscarlopez!

Oscar Gold-Dress 1

 

We’d like to thank Oscar so very much for all of his generous, honest, input, and beautiful images.  We wish him the best of luck in everything he does in the future, and hope to stay in touch!  It has been a pleasure chatting with you, Oscar! -C. Scott

All text and photo content provided by Oscar Lopez, unless watermarked, linked, or specified.

 

How Blake Smith Makes It Work

Blake Smith, Designer

Blake Smith, Designer

    Blake Smith may have been the designer who showed the most range on Project Runway’s Under The Gunn.  We especially loved watching Blake demonstrate his amazing signature skill of draping and cutting chiffon to create shape and texture in his garments.  Our favorite garment of Blake’s was from the Red Carpet Challenge in Episode 3, when he created a stunning multi-colored gown in soft pastels.  We are confident that any young starlet would love to wear this piece on The Carpet.  The dress was sold in the Under The Gunn auctions, and some lucky person purchased it for a steal!  We’re sad we missed our chance to own it!  We had the pleasure of catching up with Blake recently, to hear about what’s new and exciting for him since Under The Gunn.

HOW BLAKE SMITH MAKES IT WORK:

1.  Who are you, and what season/s did you participate in?

Blake Smith, Project Runway:Under the Gunn (Season 1)

 

2.  Please give a brief description of your design style.

My design aesthetic focuses on combining modern, minimalistic and graphic elements with ethereal, heavenly details to create beautifully intricate pieces of wearable art for women who enjoy self-expression through clothing.
Blake Smith Dress Design

Blake Smith Dress Design

3.  What was the most challenging thing about the Under The Gunn experience BESIDES the challenges themselves?

That’s a toughie… I would say that my personal hardship on Under The Gunn was actually trying to stay true to my design identity each week. I went into each challenge knowing my design capabilities and then figured out how to adapt to the challenge; but it’s a difficult task to be 100 percent true to your own vision whilst trying to please a mentor, Mr. Gunn, and a judging panel.  I found myself proving to be a diverse designer, when the judges wanted to see a severely edited point of view.
Dress Detail from a Blake Smith Design on Under The Gunn

Dress Detail from a Blake Smith Design on Under The Gunn

4.  Who have you met or worked with during or since the Under The Gunn experience that you are most proud of or excited about?

The whole experience opened up amazing networking possibilities with myself and the other designers/mentors. I try to keep up with the majority of my fellow designers, but I have made a long-term friendship with Michelle Uberreste! We have a very similar take on fashion and I would love to collaborate with her to create a beautiful, apocalyptic collection someday!

 

5.  What are you currently working on or excited about professionally?

I am working full-time designing for the LC Lauren Conrad brand for Kohl’s NYC Design Office, while steadily trying to work on a small capsule collection of my own that I hope to launch later this year.  I also have been working on some garments for private clientele.
LC Lauren Conrad for Kohl's

LC Lauren Conrad for Kohl’s

 

6.  Besides the basics, what sewing notion or tool could you NEVER do without?

I LOVE my super tiny black/white embroidery scissors that were given to me as a gift from Project Runway Season 7 finalist, Mila Hermanovski. They are such a great pair of “snips” to have when you are in a pinch and are very compact and easy to store!

 

7.  Is there anything else you’d like us to know or see?

Keep your eyes open for newness coming your way later this year!  And, you can always follow me on Instagram @royboy8888 or Twitter @royblakesmith for goofy pictures and sassy sayings!
Blake Smith Gown in Progress

Blake Smith Gown in Progress

Special thanks to Blake for taking the time to chat with us.  Blake, we wish you all the best with all your upcoming projects! -C. Scott

All interview text and photo content provided by Blake Smith, unless watermarked, linked, or specified.