Last week designer Johnathan Kayne of Project Runway fame talked with GayRVA. Known simply as Kayne on season three of Bravo’s Project Runway, he demonstrated a knack for the glamorous, winning the “Fit for a Queen” challenge and having his gown worn by Miss USA, Tara Connor, at the Miss Universe pageant, and ultimately finished in 5th place for the season. Since then Kayne has been busy with his line of shoes, a pageant and prom dress line, opening a retail studio space in Norman, Oklahoma, and being an active participant for charitable causes and events.
This Friday, Kayne will be a participating designer at the 5th Annual Cure by Design (a signature event from the American Cancer Society.) Having received encouragement from several friends with ties to the fashion industry, Kayne is excited to be coming to Richmond and showing at this event.
GayRVA: What sorts of designs can we look forward to coming down the runway this Friday?
Kayne: I have my brand new 2011 collection. I don’t have all of it, but I have about half of it at this event. It’s a small mix of cocktail dresses and evening wear. They’re things that women can wear to a gala or a formal event; some of them, obviously, being more formal than others. But it’s the newest of the new from my 2011 collection. There’s stuff that even some stores haven’t even seen yet, it’s only been previewed and shown at one market.
Why Norman, Oklahoma? Why not New York or LA or a larger market?
You know I do have to say the cost of living is amazing…It kind of has that big-small town…I love New York, but I can visit there any time, you know the cost of living is so expensive. And eventually, within the next few years, it’s in my plan to have a showroom in a larger city, but I still don’t know if my home would be there. I would work there, but I really love the Midwest…the people are wonderful, you have really great family values as well as work ethic…it’s a fun place to live, and it’s nice to relax and be able to have a home where you can just turn off the phone, sit back, and relax, and have it be peaceful, quiet, and wonderful. I have a huge support system here.
On Project Runway, America had the opportunity to meet Judith Kaye Smith, Kayne’s mother, during the “Everyday Woman” challenge. Since Project Runway, Kayne has begun designing a line for the “mature” woman, honoring his mother by naming the line, “Judith Kaye.”
How is your mom doing?
My mom is awesome! She’s just one of the sweetest, strongest women I know. She’s definitely one of my favorite people in the world (obviously!) She’s doing well, she’s in good spirits and good health. She’s proud of me and supporting me.
What made you decide to take on that demographic?
Well you know I have a lot of customers that are middle aged and older that want really nice things, but they’re having a hard time finding them…Yes, fashion is art, it’s beautiful, it’s a form of expression, but at the end of the day it doesn’t have to be the preconceived notions of the cutthroat industry, I’ve learned that you have to design things you love, and other people will love it too.
Have you been able to stop back by Project Runway since season 3?
I’ve gone to three of the Fashion Weeks since season 3. Depending on my schedule, I definitely try to go. I’ve gotten to some of the premieres, several of the final runway shows, and then I still have friends not only from my season, but other seasons as well that I keep in touch with. You know it’s kind of a little alumni of people from Project Runway that have met along away. I support any of my friends from the show and come to everything I can.
What was the biggest lesson you learned from being on Project Runway?
I would have to say the biggest thing is you have to really push yourself to be better. For me, I feel like I learned so much, not only about design, but even myself as a designer. There was a lot of personal growth in that 5 ½ weeks when I took every other variable out of my life. I didn’t have family, friends, TV, my own money; you basically eat, sleep, and breathe design with these other people in this bubble. So I had a lot of time to really think about what do I want, what are my goals, and how could this shape my life, how could I use this to help further my career.
In addition to the American Cancer Society, what charitable organizations have you worked with?
I’ve worked very closely with the Susan G. Komen Foundation. My mom is a breast cancer survivor, so those sorts of organizations are very near and dear to my heart. And of course HIV/AIDS research, no matter what your age, sex, race, or religion is, we’re all affected by it. It’s just something I don’t want people to forget about, so I have participated in several fundraisers as well as parades and marches, and just creating awareness for people to be out there, volunteering their time and raising money. I’m also very active with the regional food bank in Oklahoma.
What do you think will be some upcoming trends for fashion?
Of course the militaristic look is still in. Any time you’re in a war period you’ll have a lot of militaristic inspiration, lots of pockets. I’m feeling a lot of earth tones. I do feel like for spring they’ll change it up a little bit. Definitely still going to have earth tones, but a little bit of pastels mixed in which is a fun little feminine flair to a militaristic look. Then of course the metallics are just as strong as ever. I would definitely say a few pastel colors will be showing up, but I don’t know if there’s one color that sticks out in my mind. There will definitely be lots of greens and browns and muted colors, but then a twist with that soft pastel colors—something I have both of in my line this year. We even have a really cool muted camouflage evening gown that’s really beautiful with some really great metallics and even some pastels mixed in. It’s really a cool palette. I’m very excited!
American Cancer Society’s Cure by Design is an annual fashion show and fundraiser that features the work of top designers, including designer Johnathan Kayne, as modeled by local cancer survivors. Other activities include a silent auction, cocktail hour, and survivor reception. The event takes place this Friday, September 10, 6-10pm at The Jefferson Hotel. For more information about this event or for tickets go to www.curebydesign.org
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