When I graduated from the Masters program at Polimoda in Italy I asked my teacher where I should work after school. Very nicely I was told it would be extremely difficult to find a design job as a new designer at my age. He was correct. He did say that I should go back to the states , continue to make new designs and tell my story.
I started making shoes and prototypes in my basement and sketched all the time like I've always done. I couldn't find a job but one day I found a contest on Project Runway to meet Tim Gunn and have him critique your work. They were looking for fashion portfolios which usually means clothing but I had nothing to lose by sending my portfolio of shoe designs in.
A few days after the last date I got a call that I was one of three finalists. I told Steve my husband that I was winning this contest and a few days later they called me and told me I had.
Project Runway put us up in a nice hotel in NYC and the next day they would do the filming. I was excited and nervous.
I was still dressing like a repairman and I had Steve pick out my clothes.
The day of the filming they sent a car to pick us up.
We arrived at a high rise and went to one of the top floors. Steve and I roamed around the halls. It was all studios. They all appeared to be white. Some were huge and others were small. We were looking for the office to find out which one to go to. We walked by one and it was huge with a ton of people and a big food table bustling with activity. Turned out that was the studio.
I walked in and they had all my shoes displayed with an amazing background of Manhattan.
My heart jumped. It felt amazing. I left my job to completely change my career and now I'm in a studio in Manhattan.
They started getting me ready.
Tim Gunn arrived a bit later.
Tim is exactly who you see on the show. He is the nicest most open person. Between takes he would stand with me the whole time giving me all sorts of advice.
The first shoe Tim picketed up was my runway Moc and said "this is fabulous." I designed the shoe in my head as I was making a traditional moc for Steve. I just wondered how I could take this idea and make it runway.
It was a reinvention of the double ring moc from the 70's. I took a lilac bush in my backyard and created the heel from it's beautiful wood.
I've added a few candid shots of all the hustle and bustle happening behind the camera. It was a 10 hour day of filming that resulted in 60 second spot. I loved the way it came out.
Near the end of filming Tim said "Has the world seen this? No! Does the world need this? Yes!"
To have your designs recognized by Tim Gunn is a great accomplishment and a validation of my skills and creativity as a designer. It's always encouraging to receive positive feedback from someone who has a wealth of experience and knowledge in the fashion industry. Tims critique was a motivating force in my decision to start my own line.
Thank you Tim. Thank you Project Runway.
A link to the video can be found near the bottom of the homepage.