By MIKE CHAIKEN
For its 16th cycle, “Project Runway” took a new approach.
The fashion designers in this TV reality series had to create garments for a variety of body shapes.
There were some of the runway models— standing at 6 feet and wearing size 0. But there were many models who were atypical for the fashion industry. There were women with larger hips, bottoms, and busts that are not usually seen on the fashion catwalk.
One of the models who got to participate in the cycle—and who modeled one of the looks by winning designer Kentaro Kameyama—was Connecticut’s own Kylie Frink.
“‘Project Runway’ was my first mainstream show and my first debut at NYFW,” said Kylie in an email interview.
But Kylie is hardly a newbie in fashion.
“I’ve done work for Seventeen magazine. I’ve been featured in People Magazine and Sports illustrated for the NFL. I’ve done work for bustle, Levi’s, Target, sheego germany, Macy’s, and numerous other brands.”
Kylie got her start in modeling at age 14 at John Casablancas Modeling and Acting Agency in Rocky Hill, Conn. “Tina Kiniry, the director, scouted me and placed me in New York when I was 18.”
To find her way to the 16th cycle of “Project Runway,” which wrapped up on Nov. 30, Kylie said she was sent on a casting call by her agency, Wilhelmina NYC.
“I remember when I first got called about the job. I was worried about affording living in the city for the summer and the call came out of the blue,” said Kylie. “I was chosen by the producers for the original cast, then chosen by Kentaro himself to walk in the NYFW show in his designs,” said Kyle.
“I always use to watch the ‘Project Runway’ with my sister when we were younger,” said Kylie. “(T)o have the opportunity to be featured on it was honestly crazy to me. Never in a million years would I think that, one, I’d walk in New York Fashion Week; and two, do it with a finalist and winner of ‘Project Runway.’”
“There is something so different about television,” said the 20-year-old model, who walked for two other designers besides Kentaro. “I’ve been to some large editorial castings and big name clients, but there is something so different compared to TV. It’s almost more nerve-racking.”
“The casting (for ‘Project Runway’) was much larger than typical ones because they were looking for such a large range of models,” said Kylie, who is a graduate of Bacon Academy.
”I loved (that) the second I walked into the casting, there were so many different size models,” said Kylie, who is attending Fordham University. “A lot of times castings are not like that, and often I’m the only curvy one there. So it was super cool off the bat.”
“I love that modeling has become far more accepting,” said Kylie of the increasing call for body diversity. “I started as a size 4 and was constantly told ‘no’ by agencies because of it. When I got older, I realized I no longer wanted to keep dropping weight but let my body be natural.”
“I then developed for a year with a curve agency named JAG, then switched to Wilhelmina a year ago,” said Kylie, “even in two years as a curve model I’ve seen the industry hit huge milestones in terms of diversity exposure in campaigns, editorials, runway shows, etc. I’m proud to be a part of it and a voice/representation for real people.”
Unlike some New York fashion shows that are splashed across the pages of newspapers and discussed in a myriad of blogs within minutes of the final look walking off the catwalk, “Project Runway” is supposed to be a secret until the episodes are aired.
“We had to be pretty tight-lipped,” said Kylie. “That means we weren’t allowed to talk about the eliminations, who our designer was, what we were doing etc. Backstage we weren’t allowed to have any phones… They had two decoy designers present to keep people guessing who were the final four.”
As for her designer at fashion week, Kylie said, “I love Kentaro.”
“I was lucky enough to work with him quite a bit during the show,” said Kylie. “He is as hilarious in person as he is on camera. He is so goofy and such a fun spirit, I was so happy when he won.”
“(Kentaro’s) background is so unique and he was a composer which plays a huge element in how he designs,” said Kylie. “I think he is so incredibly talented and it was such an honor to walk in his show.”
On the New York Fashion Week runway, Kylie wore a white, slightly translucent, floor-length gown with spaghetti straps for Kentaro.
“It was so comfortable and classic,” said Kylie of her dress. “A lot of the clothes you wear on the show are…eccentric… Often you are wearing super tight or uncomfortable fabric for six hours and you can’t sit or use the bathroom so it can be difficult.”
“His final design was my favorite of the season,” said Kylie.
The fact that not only did she participate in “Project Runway” but she also was wearing a garment created by the winning designer “just adds to the dream element of it all,” said Kylie.
“When I heard he won, I wasn’t surprised,” she said. “His show was so different than the others and the energy of the crowd walking you can tell that they saw the beauty that we models felt wearing the clothes and the passion put into the designs.”
“I’m so incredibly happy for him winning and also happy for him giving me an opportunity to be a part of his moment,” said Kylie.
When it came time for the show to be aired, Kylie usually took a day or two before she watched it. Kylie said, “It’s actually a bit weird. I never watched the show live (when it was cablecast). I’d always have my friends watch it first and then tell me how it was.”
“I don’t know there’s something weird about watching yourself on TV,” explained Kylie. “It’s like hearing your own voice. It’s like that’s what I look like?”
“Yet,” Kylie said, “I always watched the reruns and it was super cool to see my hard work paying off. It was kind of a form of self-validation.”
As for whether she would return to model for “Project Runway” in a future cycle, Kylie said, “Yes, in a heartbeat.”
Now that she has “Project Runway” in her resume, the Connecticut native said “My long term goal is to continue to be a role model for young girls and boys trying to break into the industry in any sector.”
“I want to continue to chase this dream and see where it takes me and do it as long as I possibly can,” said Kylie.