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Project Runway Australia – Premieres Tonight On Arena


The inaugural season of Project Runway Australia was one of the best TV shows of 2008, and this year’s show looks like being just as good if not better. One of the reason’s the Australia show is as good as the US program is the great cast of Kristy Hinze, mentor Henry Roth, and judges Jayson Brundson and Sarah Gale.

I was lucky to chat to the charismatic Henry Roth at the Project Runway Showcase and he gave me the lowdown on the twelve designers, plus he talked about his role on the show.

When asked if he was worried about taking on the role of the iconic Tim Gunn he said ” I was never worried about filling anyone’s shoes, as it was never anybodies shoes I had to fill. I just needed to be myself.” and “What you see is what you get.”

He says the standard of the designers are much higher this year, and they were thrown some curveballs. The challenges are much harder because of the higher standard.

The designers:

Anthony Capon is a 25 year old who completed his Bachelor of Fashion Design at Canberra Institute of Technology in 2005. He inherited his interest in fashion from his adoptive mother who is a lecturer in fashion design. At the age of seven, Anthony made his mother a patchwork dress from fabric scraps. He now works as a design / production and visual merchandising assistant for a design company.:

Henry said ” Anthony is incredibly creative, he is very headstrong and contemplative, and he absolutely pulls out some amazing creations.”

Ivana Stipicic moved to Italy by herself when she was just 18 – even though she couldn’t speak a word of Italian. Studying industrial design, interiors and fashion she remained in Italy after securing a job with the prestigious Italian firm “˜Costume National’. Returning to Australia, she completed a short course program at the Whitehouse Institute of Design in Illustration 1 & 2. Although having designed for both sexes – her area of expertise lies in women’s ready-to-wear, avant garde and accessories. Currently working on her own label with a “˜rock chic’ feel, Ivana considers being a fashion designer not just a job – it’s a “˜lifestyle’.

Henry said  “Ivana is self described as dramatic and mysterious, super creative, and puts a lot of pressure on herself, and this can be her worst enemy. One to watch out for on the show.”

 Yopie Stafurik suffered from polio when she was nine years old but her need to use crutches permanently has never stopped her from pursuing her fashion goals. Having completed a Certificate III of Apparel and Manufacture at TAFE, Yopie left when she was offered a job at Movie World to design costumes (she currently designs at Seaworld).

Henry said ” Yopie is an absolute doll, and she is determined, and her creativity is some of the best bodice work I have seen.”

Jason Chetcuti can remember being fascinated with his mother’s sewing machine from the age of three. He was trained by his family’s seamstress at 15, sold race-day outfits in his home town of Mackay at 16, won the Retailers Association of Queensland’s eveningwear award the same year and, at 18, spent eight months studying fashion design and fine arts at the Paris American Academy. Jason turned down an internship at Christian Dior haute couture because he was homesick, returned to Australia and set up a corporate uniforms business.

 Henry said: “Jason is a sweetheart, and his a young puppy and still has a lot to learn. One of the things to learn is you never turn down a Dior job!”

Ryan Whelan was born in Norway and educated at a school for athletes, where he developed his competitive edge. Ryan’s great great grandfather was a tailor and another ran a fur shop in Norway. He moved to Australia by himself and enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts in Fashion at RMIT, which he is currently completing. Ryan started his own label seven years ago, specializing in men’s tailoring and he frequently incorporates fob watches, waistcoats and walking sticks into his designs.

Henry said: “He is a young man trapped in a old man’s mindset. Very old school. Very tailored and at times quite scary. One to watch.”

Michael Finch is a 23 year old who started his love affair with fashion at the tender age of four; making clothes for his Barbie dolls from his mother’s fabric scraps. He won his first sewing machine at a local fashion competition in Mackay when he was 15 years old. Michael went on to study a Bachelor of Fine Arts majoring in fashion design at QUT in Brisbane. After completing his degree, he started his own label specializing in women’s tailored evening wear. He is currently working full-time in Mackay as a soft furnishings designer.

Henry said “Michale is very old school, old Hollywood and glamourous. It is interesting that someone that young can be connected with something so old school.”

Claudia Chabo was only 8 years old when she started making clothes for her Barbie out of tissues and it was at 14 that she decided she wanted to be a designer. Having had her own fashion label, she’s designed for men and women but specialised in swimwear and lingerie design. Claudia studied fashion Technology & Apparel at East Sydney TAFE and at Meadowbank TAFE where she passed with distinctions. She aims for her designs to have a contemporary and innovative edge and thinks that anyone who says “˜fashion is not important’ has no idea what they’re talking about!

Henry said “Claudia is a lingerie expert so you will see the finest come out in her designs. Very hard on herself.”

Mark Neighbour has spent 20 years in the Australian fashion industry helping others achieve their dreams, whilst his have been unfulfilled. He recently graduated with a Masters of Fine Arts in Fashion and is currently working as a fashion technician at the Queensland University of Technology. 

Henry said “He is a real king of seamless work, super clean. He taught me to understand a totally different design aesthetic.”

 Amber Renae is 27 years old and based in Melbourne. With a fashion designer Mum, fashion has always been in her blood and she wouldn’t be caught dead leaving her house wearing something she considers “˜vanilla’. Having never studied fashion (she graduated as a Civil Engineer from the University of Queensland), Amber started her own fashion label in 2002, exporting both nationally and internationally. She designs women’s ready-to-wear with a sexy, cool and modern aesthetic. Currently she is employed as a freelance stylist. 

Henry said ” Amber is sassy and sexy, and she is all about making the female pop and be noticed in the room. One of the best at understanding marketing.”

William Lazootin has completed a Certificate in Fashion at the Douglas Mawson Institute TAFE in Adelaide, and he has worked for every major designer in Australia – Lisa Ho, Collette Dinnigan and Camilla and Marc. Now 40 and living in Sydney, William wants to start his own women’s wear label. A self-taught sewer and master pattern maker, William’s area of expertise is high-end women’s avante garde and evening wear.

Henry said “I could put him  in a design showroom in the heart of Manhatten and that boy would swim. He is super talented. He is one to watch.”

Lauren Vieyra is currently working as a junior designer at CUE. She won a full scholarship to study her Masters of Fashion Design in Florence, Italy and also completed a Diploma of Fashion Design at the Whitehouse Institute of Design. Her area of expertise is women’s after five, ready-to-wear & avant garde.

Henry said “Laurne is the absolute dark horse to watch. In the beginning I did not know how long she was going to last, you have to watch what happens with this women and how she explodes onto the runway.”

Kellyanne Russell graduated in 1997 from the Whitehouse School of Design Sydney (Diploma of Fashion), she currently has her own label which designs for “˜true women with big bums and big boobs’. Her design aesthetic is womanly, elegant and sensual with an emphasis on special occasion dressing. And being a larger woman herself, Kellyanne is keen to do this for the “˜bigger girls’ out there and basically loves designing because it’s essentially “˜dress ups for real people’.

Henry said “She’s bolshy she is opinionated, she not as bitchy as she could be. She understands that the average size of women in Australia is size 16.”

More information on the designers and the show can be found at the official website here.

The show is commences tonight on Arena at 8.30pm.

Reality Ravings will be recapping the shows.

1 comment

1 Project Runway Australia – Season 2 – Episode 1 | reality ravings { 07.09.09 at 1:52 am }

[…] kicked off tonight with twelve designers vying for the top prize. Henry Roth in a previous post here said this year’s bunch were more talented. Well now it was time to meet them as they arrived […]