‘Project Runway’ Marks Its 19th Season
"I started putting on runway shows in high school,” says Passaic, New Jersey, native Octavio Aguilar. “There were people lined up around the block to see my collections.” Today, Aguilar has come a long way from making custom prom dresses and ’90s clubwear for friends: He’s one of 16 hopefuls on the 19th season of Project Runway, all vying for a grand prize of $250,000 (supplied by Pilot FriXion Erasable Pens) to fund their lines.
Aguilar isn’t the only one who fell in love with fashion at a tender age. As a kid in Chicago, Zayden Skipper was inspired by seeing what his mother, grandmother, and aunts wore. “They were the epitome of beautiful, fashionable Black women,” says Skipper, who notes that one of his biggest career challenges to date has been “disproving the notion that a Black designer is only good at streetwear.” For Kenneth Barlis, who was raised on a military base in the Philippines, fashion provided a valuable outlet for individuality in a sea of uniforms. Mexico City native Coral Castillo, who grew up watching her mother sew, applied to the show several times, inspired by her young son. “I wanted to set an example for him that with persistence and hard work, he can do anything he sets his mind to,” she says. Meet the full cast below, and tune in to Bravo at 9PM on October 14th for the season premiere.
A version of this article appears in the December/January 2021 issue of ELLE.
Meet the cast of 16 designers on Season 19 of Project Runway.