Project Runway Season Three Premieres Tonight - Bios Of Cast Released
Bravo will launch the third season of the Emmy-nominated reality series PROJECT RUNWAY tonight (July 12th) at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT with a new cast of fifteen talented fashion designers.
Selected from thousands of hopefuls, the designers will compete for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show in the world-renowned Bryant Park tents during New York′s Fashion Week. PROJECT RUNWAY will provide the opportunity for these budding designers to break into the notoriously exclusive fashion business. The wildly successful competition reality series has proven to be one of television′s most talked-about shows and produced some of TV′s most memorable personalities and unforgettable moments.
The PROJECT RUNWAY season three designers with biographies of each designer are:
Bradley Baumkirchner, 32, Los Angeles, CA
Bradley, a 31-year-old professional designer, was born and raised in Lake Havasu City, Arizona and has more than six years of experience in the design industry. Bradley has completed courses in Fashion Design and Production at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California as well as Fashion Digital Design at the Otis College of Art and Design. He has designed for the Speedo Girls Division creating a new brand concept and collection and is experienced in pattern making, creating design concepts and unified collections. Bradley is inspired by the work of legendary fashion designer Bill Blass and currently resides in Los Angeles.
Laura Bennett, 42, New York, NY
My designs are inspired by New York City -- the architecture, the pulse of the city, the people, the glamour!
Born and raised in New Orleans and currently living in Manhattan, Laura Bennett, 42, has come a long way. In the past, Laura was a single mother who struggled to make ends meet. Now the matriarch of a large family, she has never given up on her dream of becoming a great designer.
Laura is not formally trained in clothing construction, but has designed and sewn her own clothes for her entire life. She designs and makes her own fine jewelry and believes the principles of design are universal. According to Laura, "My husband is my design mentor. His level of taste and use of restraint produce an unmatched elegance in all areas of design." Laura is also inspired by designers such as Vionnet for her innovative construction, and Oscar de la Renta, Valentino and Galliano for their sexy opulence.
Laura received her undergraduate degree in architecture from the University of Houston, and received a graduate degree in architecture from Columbia University. An architect for the last 15 years, Laura currently works part-time at her husband′s design firm, Shelton Mindel and Associates, designing product. She spends her spare time researching and studying 19th and 20th century jewelry, and follows international jewelry auctions and museum exhibits. Laura is the mother of five children.
Robert Best, 36, West Hollywood, CA
"In the end I think most women want to look pretty, the same can be said of most dolls."
Robert Best, 36, is a Principal Designer at Mattel where he has worked for Barbie Collectibles for ten years. Prior to Mattel, Robert worked in New York for such fashion luminaries as Isaac Mizrahi, Anne Klein and Donna Karan.
Robert grew up in Utah and was schooled in New York City at Parsons School of Design where he was awarded the "Student Designer of the Year" award upon graduating. He resides in West Hollywood, California and has designed hundreds of dolls while at Mattel including the "Best Models" collection featuring the completely new Model Muse body, and exciting, hot off the catwalk clothes and accessories. Some of the other Barbie dolls that Robert has created include Millennium Bride Barbie Doll, Crystal Jubilee Barbie Doll, Billions of Dreams Barbie Doll, Wedgwood Barbie, and the Fabergé series. He has also designed such celebrity dolls as the Audrey Hepburn series, James Dean and Marilyn Monroe.
Oscar De La Renta continues to be an inspiration to Robert, whose own design theory is based in simplicity: good fabrics, classic lines, and feminine details with a touch of whimsy. "I basically think of Barbie as if she is real and even though there is fantasy in my work, I always think of what a real woman would wear and then translate that into doll-scale."
Malan Breton, 32, Long Island City, NY
"I enjoy competition and I feel the world has something to see in my art."
Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Malan, 32, traveled the globe as a child, living in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia, California, Hawaii, Utah, Georgia and elsewhere. Named as one of 12 new designers to watch for on the New York runway by Women′s Wear Daily in February 2005, Malan has been designing since the age of 11. Inspired by a friend, one of America′s foremost couturiers, he decided to create his own line drawing on the vast influences and experiences of his life.
Malan has also been a part of the entertainment industry since an early age, learning his craft from costume mistresses along the way. He has appeared in theatre, film, and television, worked as a professional model and has danced with Paula Abdul and others.
His voiceover work can be heard on ESPN and ABC. Malan will soon be art directing and directing a series of thirteen short films to be released in 2008, as well a CD of jazz standards and original music.
A self trained designer, Malan′s influences stem from Asia, Australia, Europe, and Hollywood. He has designed wardrobes for Megu restaurant and has a growing clientele with a strong visual esthetic. He is inspired by Arnold Scaasi, Charles jams, Adrian, and Alexander McQueen, among others. Malan currently resides in Long Island City, New York.
Bonnie Dominguez, 31, San Diego, CA
"I have always been fascinated by the body. It is only appropriate that my design and art revolves around the human form in one way or another."
Bonnie Dominquez, 31, grew up right outside of Philadelphia, in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania. She is the second born of five children in a self-described quirky American family, complete with many a family photo album of ′National Lampoon-like′ family vacations throughout the U.S., Mexico and Canada. She said, "My father refused to buy a new car until we were all out of the house. So, all of our vacations were spent in what was the Dodge Van equivalent of the Mir space station."
While in high school, Bonnie was given scholarships to study at Moore College of Art and Design as well as Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science. She was trained in apparel, footwear and accessories design at The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. After college, she became an apparel designer for Nike and later moved on to PUMA, working on women′s footwear and apparel. While at PUMA, she lived in a variety of locales, including Los Angeles, Nuremburg, Germany and Boston. Bonnie currently heads up women′s design for Reef footwear in San Diego.
According to Bonnie, one of her main sources of inspiration is her husband. She says, "Alex is one of the most talented graphic designers I know, and is the one of the best DJ′s to ever come out of the UK. He shares my love of being a modern day gypsy and living all over the world."
Stacey Estrella, 40, San Francisco, CA
"If I win, it will help me build a significant brand awareness in my target demographic while also providing seed capital to build a multi-national fashion house and investment firm."
"Curiosity, a desire to challenge myself and grow and to see what I′m made of" is what inspired Stacey Estrella, age 40, to head to the open calls for Project Runway. She quickly adds, "And to meet Tim Gunn!"
Currently a marketing executive at a high-tech company (FoxT), specializing in Corporate Identity and Communications, Stacey is a California native, who now lives in San Francisco. She has an impressive educational background holding a bachelor′s degree in American Studies from Stanford and a Masters in business from Harvard. In addition to 12 years experience in a high tech industry, Stacey has two years of design and pattern-making experience, which she feels give her a fighting chance on PROJECT RUNWAY.
Estrella is her mother′s maiden name, which she began using at the age of 11 to honor her mother′s role in her life. She loves traveling, Spain, the Spanish language, writing journals, reading, Flamenco dancing, and shoes. Life experience, music, literature, nature and shoes inspire her designs.
Katherine Gerdes, 25, Minneapolis, MN
"I believe that no matter how creative and original designs are, if the person wearing it isn′t comfortable, it defeats the purpose. If it feels good, you′ll look good. It′s that simple."
The very last thing Katherine Gerdes, 24, could ever claim is to "have always dreamed about becoming a designer." It′s quite the opposite. As a preschooler, growing up in Minnesota, her mother couldn′t even bribe her into a dress. While other little girls wore frilly "fancy nancy" clothes, her mother couldn′t beg her out of her old non-descript jeans or overalls. In elementary school, while others begged their parents for the latest brand name jeans, Katherine′s uniform was a basic T and non-descript black leggings. And when her photography skills got her into the prestigious Minnesota State Arts High School, Katherine hated all the cool "must have" clothes everyone else was wearing. To rebel against all the "sameness," she simply started making her own clothes, and in turn, developing her own style. Yet, she was still fascinated by the world from behind the lens of a camera.
Katherine began her studies at Rhode Island School of Design as a Photography Major. She signed up for a clothing design class as a lark, but the turning point came when an instructor insisted she take a closer look at switching her major to Apparel Design. From that point, Katherine immersed herself in clothing design and found her true calling. Immediately upon graduation, she landed a plum job as Design Coordinator at Target Corporation′s headquarters in Minneapolis, and was then was promoted to Associate Textile Designer at the trend-defining retailer.
Katherine also produces her own line in her private studio tucked behind Hell′s Kitchen, a breakfast hot spot owned by her family. The Katherine Gerdes line sells at sDesign Collective, a Minneapolis showcase for local talent.
Katherine′s lines are focused, functional, and above all, designed for real people and mandated to be comfortable. "When I′m designing," explains Katherine, "I try to keep the thought ′would I wear this?′ in the back of my mind. It′s not that I design with the intention on making a new wardrobe for myself, but I like to think that if I would be uncomfortable wearing it, then maybe I should re-think the design." Katherine currently resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Kayne Gillaspie, 27, Norman, OK
"I am inspired by the beautiful curves of a woman′s body and by gorgeous colors and fabrics."
Kayne Gillaspie was born March 14, 1979 in Nashville, Tennessee. Growing up in a large family with five sisters and two brothers, Kayne as everyone knows him, realized at a young age the importance of standing out.
Starting his education with a full scholarship to Volunteer State College, Kayne′s career aspirations began in pre-veterinarian medicine. While working at a vet clinic for four and a half years, he also took a design job as a sketch artist at a local pageant boutique in Tennessee. Kayne quickly became enamored with fashion, changed his major and transferred to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.
In 2002, Kayne won the Critics Choice Award for evening wear and graduated magna cum laude. He moved back to Nashville after graduation and opened Kayne′s Clothing Boutique. This afforded him the opportunity to create custom ballroom dance costumes, eveningwear, and wardrobe for the country music industry.
In 2003, Kayne met his partner Warren and bought Southern Charm, an established formal wear and pageant store in Norman, Oklahoma. Within three years, Kayne′s success in the pageant industry soared. In December of 2005, he dressed the entire top five teens and the winner and first runner up in the Miss Oklahoma U.S.A. pageant.
He cites Bob Mackie and Roberto Cavalli as major influences on his work. His gowns encompass originality, attention to detail and a young femininity with an edge.
Ulrike "Uli" Herzner, 35, Miami Beach, FL
"My parents are my mentors."
Ulrike Herzner, who goes by the name "Uli," is a 35-year-old German native who currently resides in Miami Beach.
Trained as a physical therapist, Uli eventually decided that she wanted to enter the world of fashion. For the past eight years, this freelance stylist has dreamed of taking part in New York′s Fashion Week and is inspired by nature as well as the innovative designs of Kenzo and Roberto Cavalli. "My parents are my mentors," Herzner said. "They have stood by me since I began creating my first designs at two and a half years of age and they continue to stand by me as I go for my dreams."
Alison Kelly, 25, Brooklyn, NY
"Inspiration comes from everywhere, especially nature. I think through our designs, most artists are trying to reproduce the complex patterns and beauty we find in nature."
Originally from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Alison Kelly, 25, has been making her own clothing since she was 14-years-old. She also designs jewelry and has incorporated her own sterling silver clasps and notions into her garments.
Alison′s line of women′s wear, Dahl, made its debut in Los Angeles during the summer of 2005. The first collection titled "origami" consisted of one-of-a-kind dresses, tops and jackets made from single rectangles of silk draped one at a time. She recently relocated from Los Angeles to New York City and continues to design.
In 1998, Alison migrated to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where she pursued her studies in fine arts and metal smithing at the Instituto de Allende. Her love for designing and creating wearable pieces of art guided her to Florence, Italy, where she attended Lorenzo de Medici Scuola de Arte and intensively studied the art of fashion design. She later graduated from Massachusetts College of Art with a degree in Fashion Design and moved her career to California where she freelanced for various designers including Freddi Rojas and Punk Empire and also collaborated with Fred Segal on a project.
After moving to California, Alison introduced her first line, titled Run R1ot, which consisted of hand-made, one-of-a-kind mini collections, which were sold in various locations across Los Angeles. As Alison grew, Run R1ot transformed into Dahl. Celebrities such as Juliette Lewis, Anne Heche and Hilary Duff have donned her creations.
Angela Keslar, 33, Amesville, OH
"Leonardo Da Vinci valued experience as the truest arbiter of knowledge and learning... I completely agree and value PROJECT RUNWAY as an unparalleled experience and opportunity."
A Pennsylvania native, Angela Keslar, 33, conducted her first two years of liberal arts education at Carnegie Mellon University′s Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania campus and Centre de Tours campus in France. She completed her education at Penn State University, graduating with a degree in Integrative Arts, with an emphasis on Costume Design.
Angela has designed and manufactured her own line of clothing since 1999. She is inspired by the design work of John Galliano, Alber Elbaz and Pheobe Philo, but credits her brother, and the possibility of working with Tim Gunn, as the primary motivators in her decision to try out for PROJECT RUNWAY. She enjoys yoga, gourmet cooking, anything Elvis, snorkeling, visiting the elderly, working with children, high bush hiking and caving in southern Belize. She also loves flower and vegetable gardening, mushroom hunting, solitude, laughing, and any activities that extend her limits and annihilate her pre-conceived notions of possibility.
Angela currently lives on an organic farm in southeastern Ohio with her husband and scores of other wildlife. A glimpse into their self-sufficient lifestyle would show them gardening and preserving their harvest, chopping wood to heat their home, and living entirely off-the-grid with a sophisticated system of solar technology. Angela handcrafts each product in her solar-powered studio to reflect the quality of her work and lifestyle, which is unique, vibrant, visionary.
Michael Knight, 28, Atlanta, GA
"Love, life and sex inspire my designs."
Michael Knight is not one to mince words about why he entered PROJECT RUNWAY. "I wanted to win the competition and take over the world," claimed the 28-year-old designer. Inspired by the artistry of the late Gianni Versace, Knight was born in Nuremberg, Germany and raised in Montgomery, Alabama. Currently a resident of Atlanta, Georgia, Knight is a self-employed fashion designer and stylist who says that his passion, are food and music when he′s not eagerly anticipating his next fashion move. Knight has a degree in Apparel Design and Merchandising.
Vincent Libretti, 49, Santa Monica, CA
"I have unfinished business regarding fashion design... let′s say I still haven′t truly expressed my talents."
Vincent Libretti, 49, was born and raised in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Now living in Santa Monica, California, he recently cashed out his 401k to restart the self-named design company that he ran in New York during the 80′s.
Libretti received his Associate Degree in Liberal Arts and has taken various courses in Fashion Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology and the Parsons School of Design. His passion is women′s high-end fashion and he is most inspired by the work of Alexander McQueen. Vincent responds to vitality, enjoys truth, love and subtle expression of self. He loves to create in various art forms and feels that his style carries across in all that he does.
When he′s not working on his designs, Vincent is in Santa Monica, staying spiritual, playing guitar, and spending time with his wife and daughter.
Keith Michael, 34, New York, NY
Born in Brooklyn, New York, 34-year-old Keith Michael is a freelance designer currently creating his own line of clothing. Keith′s aesthetic of urban sophistication rings a fresh point of view to modern American design. The focus: reinterpreting true cosmopolitan style for a new generation.
Keith draws inspiration from a background in fashion photography. His work has been published in W, Elle, GQ and Blackbook. It was after working alongside top-tier designers that the multi-talented Michael was motivated to strike out on his own and develop his distinctive and tightly tailored style.
Keith′s fashion forward men′s clothing is already found in exclusive boutiques in Los Angeles and Manhattan and he looks ahead to an expanded modern luxury and lifestyle brand. His clean, unfettered clothes have been winning accolades from buyers and critics alike, which are accolades Keith continues to build upon. Most recently, Sportswear International has nominated him as "Best Newcomer of the Year" and in an article entitled "Genius News," Andrea Cusick of Nylon Magazine described Keith′s designs as "natural, organic and lovingly hand finished." He currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.
Jeffrey Sebelia, 36, Los Angeles, CA
"What I hope to create are clothes for those who relate to freedom, rebellion, creation, and self-expression. What it might look like if the world were dressed in slightly mind-bending colors and shapes, smartly designed prét-a-porter and then experienced an apocalypse."
"Music is in my blood, as well as art and fashion," says Jeffrey Sebelia, 36, the founder and designer behind clothing label Cosa Nostra. At age 16, Jeff left home to live in a garage with his punk band where he fell into a life of music, art and fast times, all supported by a mild criminal habit. It was, according to Jeff, "A lifestyle of freedom, rebellion and self-expression. Working for little money and ′trade.′"
Jeff supported himself by adorning leather and denim jackets with patches for his father′s San Bernardino County chapter of the Hell′s Angels. During this time, he lived primarily on the streets where he obtained garments from churches and the local Salvation Army. Jeff transformed ill-shaped military jackets, wool and leather blazers into celebrated masterpieces, reconstructing them to fit perfectly and covering them in patches, his design signature.
Jeff finally began to focus, market, and legitimize his love for art and fashion when Interscope records discovered his band, LIFTER, and signed them for six years beginning in the early nineties and ultimately Cosa Nostra was born. The label has a long line of celebrity clientele, including Gwen Stefani, Billy Bob Thornton, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and more. Cosa Nostra is sold exclusively at limited high-end designer stores such as Maxfield in Los Angeles, BNY in Santa Monica, Patch in St. Tropez and Harvey Nichols in London and Hong Kong.
"I′ve grown to love fashion, namely John Galliano, Comme Des Garcons, Vivienne Westwood, Ann Demeulemeester, Junya Watanabe, Rick Owens, and Yohji Yamamoto," says Jeffrey, but it was watching his friend Santino that inspired him to try out for season three. He says, "It seemed fun and challenging." Jeffrey currently resides in Los Angeles, California.