"Project Runway" kicked off its 12th season Thursday, July 18. Fifteen new designers and one returning designer started the competition to win the biggest prize in the history of the show. The winner will receive more than $500,000 in cash and prizes.
The show started by introducing all the new designers and bringing back designer Kate from Season 11. The challenge then began as parachuters fell from the sky, and the designers learned that this was the unconventional challenge where they had to use the parachutes for their materials.
One of the contestants, Timothy Westbrook, stood out from the crowd for his more unusual techniques. Westbrook, who is more of a performance artist than a designer, is very big into the sustainability of fashion. During the episode he did not use the electric sewing machine, any hair products, nor did he put any makeup on his model.
While some might call him crazy, Westbrook is more of an inspiration. He also is from my hometown of Milwaukee, Wisc., so I got the opportunity to sit down with him and talk about his life as a designer and who he is as a person.
Westbrook believes in sustainability and trying to reuse and recycle things from the environment. He loves unicorns and sees them as a metaphor for saving the environment.
“I think it also reminds people to believe in anything, because anything is possible,” Westbrook said about his love for unicorns.
In his own life, he tries to reduce as much as possible. He works in a studio with big windows and does not turn on the lights.
“I have non-electric looms where I make all my fabric,” Westbrook said. He makes this fabric out of many different recycled materials, including cassette tapes and plastic bags.
This may be hard for a designer, but Westbrook considers himself an artist who creates art pieces, he said.
“I’m not interested in ready-to-wear,” Westbrook said. “For me, ready-to-wear and sustainability is happening, we don’t need to make it. One of a kind art pieces and sustainability really talk about how to rethink things, and that is what I am able to create.”
During the first episode, the judges were quick to judge Westbrook for his choices to have the model barefoot and without makeup. It even left fans thinking he was a little strange.
Westbrook is an innovator and is doing his part to help the environment.
“I live my own life,” he said. “I’m very happy with what I do and how much I reduce.”
Westbrook had a few tips for college students to live a more sustainable life. He suggests turning off lights, taking the stairs and using a bike instead of a car. These simple changes will help you start taking care of your body and help the environment.
“Just think about the environmental impact of every step of the day,” Westbrook said.
You can see more of Westbrook and his unconventional ways on this season of "Project Runway." Catch up on him and the other 15 designers to see what they create. Check out mylifetime.com/show/project-runway for more information.
By: Abby Kass