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The Project Runway Blog
Fresh off her victory, "Project Runway" Season 12 champ Dom Streater chatted with me about her favorite challenges, her friendships with her fellow designers, and what it's like to be the first African-American winner in the show's history. Check out the full interview after the cut, and don't forget to tune in for the Season 12 Reunion Special on Thursday at 9.8c. (followed by the premiere of a new season of "Project Runway All Stars" at 10.9c).
You had kind of a low profile during a lot of the season; you’d get good feedback in a challenge but you wouldn't win, or you'd be safe and get no feedback at all. Did that affect your outlook going into the finale?
In the beginning of the season I was on top a few times. Then I was safe for a lot of the challenges. And then I was in the bottom because I was nervous about being safe; I didn’t want to be someone that the judges were like, “She’s neither here nor there. She doesn’t really need to be here.” I was definitely nervous at first. But then toward the end of the season, the last couple of challenges before the finale, I was getting really good feedback from the judges so I was not nervous going into it. I was very confident.
Justin LeBlanc made history not only as the first designer to ever receive Tim Gunn's Save in Episode 6, but he's also the first deaf designer to compete on the show. To learn more about Justin's hearing loss and how he didn't let his disability affect his performance in the competition, read our Q&A below:
Q: Justin, would you please tell us a little about your history as far as your hearing loss?
Justin: When I was around 1 year old, my parents became concerned that I wasn't responding to sound. They took me to my pediatrician. According to my parents, after a general exam, he looked at me and said, "Where's your dad?" I smiled and poked my father in the stomach. What that, the pediatrician said, "There’s nothing wrong with his hearing." My parents weren’t convinced. They took me to Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston. There they did some sophisticated tested that involved measuring my brains response to sound. The tests revealed that I was deaf.
I was raised in an environment of "total communication." My parents hired a sign language teacher to teach us all sign language. They also provided me a speech therapist through most of my pre-college years. As a young child, I relied more on sign language, but as I got older, and interacted more with the hearing world, I relied more and more on speech. I have many deaf friends, so sign language is still an important means of communication for me. Throughout school, I’ve been mainstreamed in regular classes with the help of a sign language interpreter.
I always saw this as an opportunity to educate people about that aspect of myself. There were discouraging times, many in fact. But I am a VERY positive person. I am proud to be a deaf person. It is who I am, and I embrace it.
Q: What are your thoughts around cochlear implants?
Justin: I can only speak to my experience. This is not the best option for everyone. Each person needs to decide what best fulfills their goals and lifestyle. It provided me with greater access to the hearing world and the possibility to further my education and meet my personal dreams for the future. But that is a personal choice. I received my cochlear implant when I was 18 years old, I made the decision for myself.
Q: Can you share some of your reflections on being on "Project Runway"?
Justin:It’s been a truly life-enhancing experience. I’ve pushed myself to the limit physically, mentally, and emotionally. I’ve learned a tremendous amount from my peers and I’ve established friendships that I hope will be life-long. And believe it or not, it was a lot of fun!
Q: Has your hearing loss ever been a barrier or kept you from achieving a goal?
Justin: Never. If anything, being deaf gave me more incentive to achieve my goals. A deaf person can achieve anything that they choose.
I remember my parents telling me that that when I was little, a couple who had just learned that their child was deaf, came up to us to say that they were terrified at the prospect of having a deaf child. But after seeing me, they were put at ease because I was so happy, outgoing, communicative, and well adjusted. I hope that, as an adult, I can get the same message across. I don’t view deafness as a disability or a handicap. It’s part of who I am and I am proud to be deaf.
Q: What advice would you give to young people who are deaf and would love to follow in your footstep?
Justin: Work hard, really really hard. Pursue your educational goals with whatever resources you can find. Don’t use your deafness as a crutch. Demand equal treatment and access to educational resources. Experiment with art in all of its forms. Do not sell yourself short. And find something that you are passionate about.
Newly-crowned "Project Runway" Season 11 winner Michelle Lesniak Franklin took some time to talk with me about her experience on the show, her "do or die" moment and her reaction to being called a "mean girl." Check out the full interview after the cut, and don't forget to tune in for the Season 11 Reunion Special on Thursday at 9.8c.
Now that "Project Runway" Season 10 has a fashion champion, we couldn't wait to talk to the newly crowned winning designer, Dmitry Sholokhov, all about the anniversary season and what we can expect from him next! We also pooled questions from our loyal Twitter followersread on to see if your question made the cut!
"Project Runway" seasons come and go, and with them all kinds of talented, promising designers. Judge Nina Garcia and mentor Tim Gunn have been around for all of them. The pair took the time during the run-up to the Season 10 finale to chat with us about this season's developments and to share their thoughts on the final four designers. Check out the Q&A below, and don't forget to watch the finale episode (full of Fashion Week goodness) tomorrow night at 9.8c.
His confidence, competitive streak and previous experience as a "Project Runway" Season 9 contestant made Gunnar Deatherage quite the antagonist at the start of Season 10. Over the past few episodes, though, a calmer, friendlier Gunnar emerged, one who seemed dedicated to producing good clothes instead of producing drama. For the HP fabric-design challenge, he dug deep and created a pattern expressing his past as a victim of bullying, but while the judges were moved by his story, they were less impressed with Gunnar's design. Auf he went. Gunnar answered a few of our questions about his time on the show, the best advice he got from the judges, and the origins of his distinct name. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
Being able to tailor one's personal aesthetic to meet the needs and desires of a client is arguably the biggest test for a real fashion designer. But garments that don't meet the judges' standards even those put together by the happiest of designer-client teams won't cut it on "Project Runway," as Nathan Paul unfortunately found out last night. Nathan opened up about his reasons for being on the show, what he could have done differently in this week's challenge and his pick for the winner of Season 10. Check out the Q&A after the jump!
With her loud hair and louder designs, Buffi Jashanmal made an immediate impression on Project Runway this season - and on the judges, who weren't exactly enamored with her eclectic style. This week we saw two designers flee the show and another brought back as a replacement, but that wasn't enough to distract the judging panel from the design and construction problems in Buffi's garment. The bubbly, personable designer talked with us about her reaction to the challenges, her favorite designers still remaining in the competition, and the thought process behind her wild hair. Check it out below!
It's never easy for ego-driven, individualistic designers to collaborate on one design, but add severe time constraints, the possibility of elimination, and the opportunity to have that design featured on an Emmys red carpet and it's enough to make anyone crack. We saw a lot of crankiness and fighting this week, but surprisingly, none of it came from the bottom two designers, Raul Osorio and Alicia Hardesty. They committed to their losing dress as equals in an admirable and atypical move. Unfortunately, it was someone's turn to be auf'd, and Raul ended up on the chopping block. We spoke with him about the difficulties of the challenge and the rest of his time on the runway check out our Q&A below!
The crop of fresh-faced Season 10 designers had a lot to handle in their first episode, from the massive runway show in the middle of Times Square to the challenge requirement of presenting two finished (and cohesive!) looks. Beatrice Guapo's knit pieces were unfortunately met with an "auf wiedersehen" from the judges. We spoke with Beatric about her time on the show, her near-catastrophic garment problem and the juicy drama between Christopher and Gunnar. Check it out after the jump!