Sarah Donofrio

Designer - Out Episode 4

34, Portland, OR, #DesignerSarah

When did you realize you had designer potential?
I went to private art lessons as a child and just started sketching people and clothes. I had sketched a bathing suit line at age 10. All the bikini tops were made of piano keys and fruit. Very Gaga!

What is your design training?

I have a diploma in fashion design, and a very broad area of expertise. I also developed and taught a fashion business course at a college in Toronto.

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Strengths as a designer?
I have extremely good trend intuition and know how to update classic styles or previously top selling styles to remain relevant. At the same time, I’m not afraid of taking risks when it comes to mixing colors or prints, and I know when something isn’t working.

Weaknesses as a designer?
I have sometimes chosen sellability over edginess. Being a local designer, I only had so much inventory, and I wanted it all to sell. Don’t use that cool, deadstock vintage, checkered happy face button on that blouse, just use black so people will understand it, etc… While my garments are unique and stand out, I also felt limited sometimes as I needed commercial appeal.

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How did you end up auditioning for “Project Runway”?
The idea had always been in my head, but being a designer always made me on a crazy time crunch. I thought about auditioning for Season 14, and then chickened out. It eventually came down to a now or never thing in my head, so I guess it’s now!

Challenge you wish they’d bring back?
Making wearable garments out of bridesmaids dresses. I worked in bridal and always fantasized about starting a label that was just repurposing bridesmaids gowns.

Challenge you hope they don’t?
The challenge where you had to make something out of pajamas and bed sheets. Working with something that someone just slept in? Gross.

What’s your take on team challenges?
I’m a good team player, but maybe that’s a disadvantage if the leader/loudmouth is making something ugly? But if I’m the leader, then the pressure is on me to make something pretty. I’m so confused already. I’m going to go with hate.

Do you think you can win “Project Runway”?
I think I can win because I can make really amazing things in a really short amount of time, but I also know my limitations. Also, I know how to take a crazy idea and make it polished, which is sometimes hard to do without compromising the initial design integrity. Oh, and I don’t take things personally. I take all advice at face value and just try to keep key criticisms in mind. the ability to take criticism- constructive or not- will get me through each challenge!