Meet the first batch of Project Runway New Zealand designers

The much-anticipated first season will be hitting our screens soon. Here's everything you need to know about the first group of hopeful contestants.
Loading the player...

The first group of designers vying for the title of New Zealand’s first Project Runway winner has been announced, and it’s an eclectic bunch.

Each week they’ll be creating their best looks in order to impress the judges – Fashion Quarterly editor Sally-Ann Mullin and World designer Benny Castles along with host Georgia Fowler and mentor Andreas Mikellis.

The remaining seven contestants will be announced next Sunday, but for now, let’s meet the first group.

Kerry Ranginui, 33, Pattern Maker from Whanganui

Kerry left Whanganui 10 years ago to head to Auckland and fulfil his dream of working in fashion. He had no money and a car full of clothes but was determined to succeed. He arrived at the very peak of the 2008 recession and spent six years working on a dairy farm before getting a long-awaited break in the industry – working as a pattern maker for Karen Walker.

On what made him want to become a designer, Kerry says:

“Growing up in a small town there weren’t many places to buy clothes. Because I couldn’t find what I wanted, I had to learn how to make my own clothing. I taught myself to sew by watching my mother.”

He describes his personal style and design aesthetic as “clean, quirky and experimental with silhouettes and never afraid of a print!

“I love that fashion challenges people’s perspectives of masculinity and femininity. I wear a lot of clothes intended for women.”

As far as his point of difference as a designer goes, he enjoys challenging peoples perceptions of what is masculine and feminine. “I’m from a menswear background, so I think that designing womenswear from a masculine perspective is fun. Womenswear is also very strong and powerful when taken from a male silhouette.”

Caitlin Crisp, 22, Retail Assistant from Christchurch

The reason Caitlin says she hasn’t started her own fashion label yet is because her pieces are difficult to mass replicate.

She describes her personal style and design aesthetic as ever changing and developing, but always girly. “I love frills, billowing cotton and resort styles.

“My style is very commercial. My strengths are dresses and blouses. I think the unconventional challenges may show some weaknesses but I’m sure we’ll mostly be in the same boat with using materials we’re not familiar with!”

Her grandmother inspired her career choice. “My grandmother was a seamstress and I was dressing myself before I could speak. It was never a conscious thought or moment, it was always there,” she says.

Massey Williams, 38, Alternative Education Tutor and Mentor from Christchurch

Massey grew up playing rugby, but when he happened upon a Picasso exhibition it inspired him to venture into the world of fashion. He faced prejudice as a straight male wanting to get into the industry, and friends and family told him to quit. He ignored the naysayers though and started his own street wear label, ‘Disciple of Discipline.’

“I came into this industry with not a single person believing in me,” he says. “I had family members and friends who absolutely ridiculed me for applying for Project Runway. I had hardly any support, so it just shows that drive and determination really do take you places.”

He draws on his rugby background when he’s designing. “My design aesthetic is mostly sporty at this stage,” he says. “I combine a sense of utilitarian and minimalism to try and create a character that is strong but subtle.

“As for my personal style, like my personality, it is unpredictable. I am more comfortable in shorts and t-shirts and casual kicks.”

Beth Hornsby-Hunt, 31, Fashion Student from Auckland

Beth isn’t one to stick to the ‘norm.’ Her previous designs have included the use of blood splatter and taxidermied ducklings. She’s not on the show to make friends -she’s in it to win it.

Friends and family describe her as “strong willed, determined, blunt, independent” and say “she walks to the beat of her own drum.”

Beth says her personal style changes with the seasons. “Winter I’m in jeans and a bomber jacket. But come summer, I am pretty much a full blown 50s pinup girl!”

She isn’t particularly confident about having to present her ideas in the workroom. “When it comes to design, drawing is my weakness. Trying to sketch something to convey my ideas is difficult for me, because I couldn’t sketch my way out of a paper bag. My strengths would have to be my technical ability and problem solving.”

But as far as her point of difference as a designer goes, Beth had this to say:

“As a designer I want to stay in touch with my customer. Everything I make is for an individual person and I love the face to face aspect of that. I’m willing and open to try different things and not put myself in a box. I think some designers get wrapped up in doing only what they like doing, and this stops them from growing and challenging themselves.”

Lenon Wakuwa, 27, Caregiver from Invercargill

A strong advocate for the transgender and gender fluid community, Lenon doesn’t like being defined by gender, believing it only limits people’s creative minds.

“I am passionate about fashion and being featured in Project Runway would be the most wonderful opportunity to get noticed as a fashion designer among many other talents,” Lenon says.

Being gender fluid was the reason behind Lenon deciding to become a designer. “I found that there was a real lack of clothing choices for people like myself. Nothing quite fit, it was either his or hers, but there was no middle ground. I am a very feminine and flamboyant person, so I found myself creating my own designs to suit my needs.”

“My personal style is androgynous and gender fluid with a touch wearable avant garde. All my creations borrow feminine characteristics, whether that be the way I incorporate lines, shape and form, or colour and texture. I am also hugely inspired by the Victorian Era and my African heritage, and find these influences appearing in my work from time-to-time.”

Project Runway premieres on Monday 1st October at 7:30PM on TVNZ 2.

Related stories

Get your favourite magazines home delivered!  

Subscribe and save up to 38% on a magazine subscription.