When "Project Runway" begins Season 15 at 8 Thursday night on Lifetime, Baton Rougean Brik Allen will be among the 16 designers competing to stitch his way to a win. He's hoping to follow in the footsteps of fellow Baton Rougean and LSU Textiles, Apparel & Merchandising program graduate Anthony Ryan Auld, who won "Project Runway All Stars II” in 2013.
"It was pretty surreal to be selected," says Allen via a phone interview. "It's been a dream of mine for years now. To be selected was real fulfilling."
Allen, who says he started sketching designs at age 16, tried out for "Project Runway" last season but "none of my portfolio work was current," he explains at mylifetime.com. "The casting director told me to work on my POV (point of view) and apply again next year with at least six brand new looks. I spent the past year mastering my craft and putting together my first collection specifically for 'Project Runway.'
That dedication also paid off last March when Allen was declared winner of the 2016 New Orleans Fashion Week Top Design Competition as well as winner of the People's Choice Award, sponsored by Yelp. NOFW founder Tracee Dundas says he stood out in "talent, personality and work ethic from the start."
For NOFW, the 26-year-old Allen described his esthetic as "eclectic, smart and bold." On the "Project Runway" site he says his greatest strengths are his passion and that he's a skilled patternmaker. "I know how to cut and sew quality garments.
"I think I can win 'Project Runway' because I have a fresh style that reflects the times we are in," he continues. "I’ve got the skills required to create my visions, and I always push myself to grow as an artist. I also have the drive to succeed and the ambition to make a difference in the world."
Allen isn't the only Louisiana resident competing this season. Shreveport designer Tasha Henderson, 33, is also vying for this year's prize, which includes $100,000 to launch the winning designer's business, a new Lexus IS sedan, a complete sewing and crafting studio from Brother Sewing & Embroidery, a year’s worth of products along with a $25,000 cash prize from Sally Beauty, travel and hotel accommodations to inspiring destinations around the world from Best Western Hotels & Resorts and, from Mary Kay, an entire year’s worth of beauty products for their fashion shows and professional makeup artist services for their debut show. The winning designer and model will also receive a fashion spread in Marie Claire magazine.
"I was blown away by how talented the other designers are; it's going to be a great show," says Allen of his competition, which includes Laurence Basse and Rik Villa, of Los Angeles; Sarah Donofrio, of Portland, Oregon; Ian Hargrove, of Chicago; Nathalia JMag, of Framingham, Massachusetts; Linda Marcus, of Milwaukee; Cornelius Ortiz, of Boston; Roberi Parra, of Miami; Kimber Richardson, of New York; Jenni Ricetti and Alex Snyder, of San Francisco; Erin Robertson, of Cambridge, Massachusetts; Dexter Simmons, of Oakland, California; and Mah-Jing Wong, of Philadelphia.
Guest judge for the season opener is "Today" show anchor Savannah Guthrie. She joins veteran judges Heidi Klum; Nina Garcia, creative director of Marie Claire; fashion designer Zac Posen, creative director for Brooks Brother Women; and mentor Tim Gunn, who once again has the power to “save” one designer from elimination.