Reunion on the Runway

Seven Project Runway stars land in St. Louis to showcase their goods at STLFW.

 

This year's Saint Louis Fashion Week lineup includes a very special event that brings together the talents of seven “Project Runway” alumni. Viktor Luna, April Johnston, Anthony Ryan Auld, Carlos Casanova and Joshua McKinley join St. Louis designers Laura Kathleen Baker and Michael Drummond on the stage of The Fox Theatre for a one-night-only, must-see exhibition of their lines on Sept.28. We caught up with the design stars to find out what they've been up to since the show, what's on their fashion watch lists and what they'll be bringing to Saint Louis Fashion Week.

 

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Laura Kathleen Baker

“Project Runway” Season 9 & “Project Runway All Stars” Season 2
Photo by Wesley Law
Hair by Tiffany Roberts
Makeup by Kimmie Fields of MAC Cosmetics

Since her participation in Season 9 of “Project Runway,” where she made it into the top five, Laura Kathleen Baker has done anything but rest on her laurels. The now 28-year-old designer from St. Louis is already in her third season of production on her line, which is available locally at Ivy Hill and has been accepted to SCENE at Dallas Market Center this month‰ÛÓa huge milestone for a designer. She’s also developing a jewelry line, and has been consulting for local and regional apparel companies and a local branding agency. Baker is also proud to report that the fashion program she created with Lift For Life Academy in 2009 has really taken off. While she has big-city ambitions, she remains proud to call St. Louis home. “My family is here, and people are so supportive. St. Louis is a great place to raise a family; the quality of life is amazing. New York is a quick flight away.”

Whose fall lines do you find most exciting? Tom Ford, Giambattista Valli footwear and Balmain.

The one accessory every woman needs right now: Anything from Love Armour. Your favorite look for going out: Heels‰ÛÓgood heels. And a jumpsuit. I used to tend toward wide-leg styles, but now I am moving toward skinnier, tapered legs.

Your favorite look for going out: Heels‰ÛÓgood heels. And a jumpsuit. I used to tend toward wide-leg styles, but now I am moving toward skinnier, tapered legs.

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Anthony Ryan Auld

“Project Runway” Season 9 & “Project Runway All Stars” Season 2
Photo by Richard McLaren/Lifetime Television

It’s been a whirlwind two years for New Yorkbased Joshua McKinley, 27, who was named runner-up of “Project Runway” Season 9 and returned to the screen for the second season of “All Stars.” What’s he up to now? “I have been fortunate enough to travel around the country discussing and sharing my design vision with people thirsty to learn more.” With a signature style he describes as “classic cuts in innovative, high-tech fabrics,” McKinley’s fashions have found favor with both men and women. His capsule womenswear cocktail and evening collection, Johnathan Kayne by Joshua McKinley, received a phenomenal response this summer at its first trade show in Atlanta. It will hit stores across the country in early 2014. And, according to McKinley, his signature menswear pieces “divorce their hangers quicker than Elizabeth Taylor does her husbands!”

Whose fall lines do you find most exciting? Michael Kors’ Resort 2014 collection, with his use of prints and the brilliant lucite chokers and cuffs with locks. They are to-die-for fabulous!

On trends versus style: Anyone can buy into a trend; it takes intelligence to understand that you can’t buy style. So take a stand, exist uniquely and be a trendsetter.

What are you looking forward to most about your time in St. Louis? Having traveled to many different fashion weeks, I’m excited to see the creative genius that St. Louis has to offer. Two St. Louis natives and fashion powerhouse designers, Laura Kathleen and Michael Drummond, are leading the way to build a unique perspective for design in St. Louis, and I’m excited to see what other designers are doing to give a voice to this burgeoning market.

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Michael Drummond

“Project Runway” Season 8
Photo by Attilio D’Agostino

St. Louis-based Michael Drummond describes his clothing line, The Exquisite Corpse, as “rooted in eco-consciousness.” “My clothing is mostly comprised of end-run and organic materials, but doesn’t look like something that you’d wear with Tevas,” he says. Since his appearance on Season 8, the 34-year-old designer has found success with his line, as well as designing for the stage and for print and film commercials. The dramatic nature of his designs is what has helped his career transcend the marketplace to attain global appeal: He’s currently in negotiations to design with a top-tier shoe developer based in Hong Kong. Locally, he curated the “Dressed” exhibition this past spring for the Regional Arts Commission and his line has dressed Heidi Klum and Tika Sumpter. Still, Drummond’s heart stays close to home. “I love the alliances that nurture St. Louis’ fashion scene. We have very passionate and savvy people creating great art and events that have been getting worldwide attention.”

Fashion trend you’re sick of: I try not to look at fashion as a “right now” type of thing, and I try not to judge people or their fashion choices. That behavior is boring and closes you off to the creative spirit.

Who or what inspires you? Recycling has shown up in my most recent designs. I’ve been making fringe out of X-rays and sequins out of old soda bottles. The Japanese dance of Butoh and the image of a city shaman are major inspirations for the line at the moment.

Your favorite piece in your closet right now: May I pick four? My Phillip Lim t-shirt or my Paul and Joe funnel neck, which is like 12 years old. My AllSaints tux jacket, and my black satin Maison Martin Margiela ankle boots. Also, my turn-of-the-century men’s day frock coat and a Jutta Neumann leather bag I will take to the grave. That is way more than four.

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Joshua McKinley

“Project Runway” Season 9 & “Project Runway All Stars” Season 2
Photo by Richard McLaren/Lifetime Television

It’s been a whirlwind two years for New Yorkbased Joshua McKinley, 27, who was named runner-up of “Project Runway” Season 9 and returned to the screen for the second season of “All Stars.” What’s he up to now? “I have been fortunate enough to travel around the country discussing and sharing my design vision with people thirsty to learn more.” With a signature style he describes as “classic cuts in innovative, high-tech fabrics,” McKinley’s fashions have found favor with both men and women. His capsule womenswear cocktail and evening collection, Johnathan Kayne by Joshua McKinley, received a phenomenal response this summer at its first trade show in Atlanta. It will hit stores across the country in early 2014. And, according to McKinley, his signature menswear pieces “divorce their hangers quicker than Elizabeth Taylor does her husbands!”

Whose fall lines do you find most exciting? Michael Kors’ Resort 2014 collection, with his use of prints and the brilliant lucite chokers and cuffs with locks. They are to-die-for fabulous!

On trends versus style: Anyone can buy into a trend; it takes intelligence to understand that you can’t buy style. So take a stand, exist uniquely and be a trendsetter.

What are you looking forward to most about your time in St. Louis? Having traveled to many different fashion weeks, I’m excited to see the creative genius that St. Louis has to offer. Two St. Louis natives and fashion powerhouse designers, Laura Kathleen and Michael Drummond, are leading the way to build a unique perspective for design in St. Louis, and I’m excited to see what other designers are doing to give a voice to this burgeoning market.

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Casanova

“Project Runway” Season 8 & “Project Runway All Stars” Season 2
Photo by Richard McLaren/Lifetime Television.

For Carlos Casanova, 36, “Project Runway” was a crash course in becoming a serious designer. “[It] was like enrolling myself in fashion school. I really learned how to define myself as a designer filming the show. While I was in Puerto Rico, I had no idea what my aesthetic was, since I needed to cover many bases as a designer in a very small market.” Now headquartered in New York, his company, Casanova NYC, is catering to a very specific crowd. “My designs are risqu̩. The women who wear my clothes have a lot of selfconfidence.” His current focus has turned toward ready-to-wear and handbags. “Right now my bags are selling in two stores in NYC, and I’m planning to start selling my clothing in two more stores in NYC and one store in Puerto Rico.”

Your favorite piece in your closet right now. My very pointy patent leather shoes from St. Tropez.

What do you do to move past creative blocks? I take a break and go shopping. I strongly believe in the powers of retail therapy.

Whose fall lines do you find most exciting? Dsquared2. I love the raspberry velvet blazer, the red trench coat and all the clutches. Give us your trend forecast for 2014. Geometrics and stripes are coming back. Black and yellow is big.

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Viktor Luna

“Project Runway” Season 9
Photo by Richard McLaren/Lifetime Television

Season 9 contestant Viktor Luna, 32, has no problem articulately defining his clientele. “I definitely target that rock ‘n’ roll fan who loves to take risks and at the same time enjoys what she or he wears. They can go downtown to party and then head uptown to look elegant for an event.” And, clearly, his acute design awareness has helped his audience find him in return. “I have more personal clientele, which allows me to create custom outfits with that one-on-one contact. I work with Style PR in LA, and they help bring my work out there to celebrities such as Carly Rae Jepsen, Ciara and Ashanti.” Headquartered in NYC, the Viktor Luna brand has set itself apart with prints that incorporate photographs taken by Luna himself. “When I don’t use my own prints, I try to use unique techniques that are signature to me, whether it’s in the silhouette or detailing.”

What do you do to move past creative blocks? I take a break, go to the museum and travel. Whenever you’re stuck, that’s your mind trying to tell you to take time off and enjoy life.

The one accessory every woman needs right now: An Herm̬s Collier de Chien. It’s a super chic studded bracelet that goes with everything!

Give us your trend forecast for 2014: Bold prints, short shorts, leather accessories and visors. A sporty yet chic look is going to be big for 2014. Oh, wait‰Û_ that sounds like my collection!

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April Johnston

“Project Runway” Season 8 & “Project Runway All Stars” Season 1
Photo by John Michael Fulton Photography

Twenty-four-year-old April Johnston is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, so to speak. Her bleach-blonde hair and rosy cheeks suggest she’s an all-American girl next door. But peek inside her portfolio, and you’ll find some pleasantly dark surprises. She describes her line, Mangled Courtesan, as sophisticated gothic romanticism. “My style is extremely feminine, while still keeping a dark and curious edge.” With her own fabric line carried at Jo-Ann stores nationwide and her 2014 spring/summer Purgatoire Collection in the works, the Philadelphia-based designer is already thinking about what’s next. “I’m ready to start moving into red carpet, bigger stores and hopefully some costume design.” Despite her success on the runways, she considers herself to be down-to-earth and a bit of a tomboy. “I spent a lot of time hunting, fishing and camping as a kid, and I am still like that to this day.” We’re excited to see what she’ll surprise us with next.

What do you do to get past creative blocks? I usually watch Tim Burton movies. They always have great costume design‰ÛÓ” Sweeney Todd,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “Nightmare Before Christmas.”

Fashion trend you’re sick of: I can’t stand the camisole underneath the deep V-neck t-shirts. I cannot believe this horror is still lurking around.

Whose fall lines do you find most exciting? I don’t really follow other designers’ fashion much, but I can say Alexander Wang has my attention.

Want more? Visit the Style Notes blog at ALIVEMag.com to read the full, uncut interviews with all seven Project Runway designers. Tickets to the Project Runway show are available at saintlouisfashionweek.com.

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