By Jeff Walsh
Andy South was the youngest gay contestant on Project Runway this season, and made it into the final three contestants who got to show an entire collection at Fashion Week. He may look familiar on the site because he wrote an article for Oasis about his thoughts on fellow contestant Mondo Guerra revealing he was HIV-positive on the show a few weeks back.
Sadly, Andy didn't end up winning the show, but he seems very aware that Project Runway is an opportunity to build on, and from now, it is up to him to succeed.
We spoke last weekend, two days after the finale aired, and the first day he remembers sleeping in for a very long time, as he transitions from being a reality show contestant back to being a full-time fashion designer.
Here's what we said:
By Jeff Walsh
On last week's Project Runway, one of the best designers this season, Mondo Guerra, created his own fabric for the challenge. The pink fabric with the plus-sign design became high-waisted pants that won him his third challenge in a row. When he was asked about the inspiration for the print, he clammed up and just said it was very personal to him. Nina Garcia, one of the judges, said she wished she knew the story that inspired the fabric.
In that moment, Guerra's life changed. The 32-year-old designer made the decision to share what he had kept a secret for the past 10 years, one that his own family didn't even know. He is HIV-positive.
When Guerra said this, the designer had his fellow contestants crying, and as he finished speaking, you could literally see the weight coming off of his shoulders, and a designer we already adored became that much more human, vulnerable, and less troubled.
HIV is sort of this thing that we hear about, but it rarely is made real to us. I know people that have it, but it's like knowing someone with high blood pressure. They take some pills, and their life seems fine. But it is always important to remind ourselves that this is an important issue in our community, and one that should be taken seriously.
The youngest designer this season, Andy South (who we'll probably interview in Oasis before the season ends) is the same age now as Guerra was when he was became infected, so it really hit home for him. South was kind enough to share his thoughts with us on Guerra revealing his HIV status.
Whether you like Project Runway, fashion, or not, Guerra's story is still reinforcing a lesson that we all need to hear: that whatever private issue is burdening you in life is probably not worth the effort of keeping it a secret.
Here's what Mondo and I said this morning:
After seeing this past week's episode of Project Runway, where Mondo Guerra revealed he is HIV+ during the runway show, I knew I wanted to get him in Oasis (you can read my interview with Mondo here). I think HIV/AIDS is an important issue to bring up with LGBT youth whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Andy South is also gay and the youngest contestant on the show this season, which is why I already planned to feature him in Oasis as the season progressed. Because Andy is closest in age to the members of our site, I asked him to share his thoughts on Mondo revealing his HIV status on Project Runway last week. This is what he wrote:
"Mondo and I are 10 years apart in age, and knowing he has been living with HIV for that amount of time made me really think about where I am in my life. Mondo was infected when he was my age and it really opened my eyes to how unpredictable life is.
By Jeff Walsh
I was surprised to find out that, despite watching the show for many years, I've never interviewed a Project Runway contestant for Oasis before. This year, I was interested to talk with Jay Nicholas Sario, who lives in San Francisco, works for The Gap, and as of this writing, is still going strong on the show. We set up the interview recently through the show's publicist, only to discover that we work within a block of one another. Jay jumped on the phone call just as my automated corporate teleconference voice announced that the call was being recorded. He immediately jumped in.
Oh no... I'm nervous!
But there's no video?! They video'd you on Project Runway. This is just audio and it's not even going to be broadcast.
By Jeff Walsh
With his new book, "A Guide to Quality, Taste & Style," Tim Gunn brings the expertise and charm that has made him famous on "Project Runway" and boiled it down to the essentials that everyone can use in their own life. Gunn, 53, recently left Parsons: The New School for Design, where Project Runway is taped, for a new position as chief creative officer for Liz Claiborne, although he will return for the show's fourth season. In addition, Gunn will also host Tim Gunn's Guide To Style, which will air as eight one-hour shows on Bravo starting in September.
As much as I love Project Runway, and understand that it is "reality TV," I was surprised at how down to earth and affable he was. Our initial interview was set up for Friday, via phone, a day in advance of his San Francisco visit. He was doing two book events in one day, so not surprising to do it over the phone, really. So, he calls me on Friday, and just as we're getting started, I mention I'll be seeing him at the book event in San Francisco tomorrow. "You're in San Francisco? Why don't we do this in person? We'll get a better interview that way." We make plans to meet at the bookstore the following day, in advance of his event, and that was that.