"Project Runway Australia" concluded its third season, with young upstart designer Dylan Cooper winning the finale with his line of evening gowns and women's suits in graphic-printed velvet. Although it shares the same format as the original US version, "Project Runway Australia" is a kinder, gentler show: there is no bickering on the runway, or blaming each other for botched team challenges, and contestants are more likely to offer praise for their fellow competitors on the runway than to say something catty.
Even without all the drama, it's still worth finding a download of the show online--especially to catch a glimpse of the talented and charming Johnny Schembri bouncing around the workroom. Schembri, a 24-year old designer from Sydney who runs his own label byJohnny, wowed the judges with his design skills--he was a Top 3 Finalist--as much as he won over viewers with his cheeky grin. We couldn’t resist staying up until the wee hours of the morning to place a call halfway around the world and have a chat with Schembri at his home.
What is considered Australian “fashion”? The only Australian designers that Americans know well are Richard Tyler, and the guy who invented the Speedo.
Australian fashion is very similar to the American market; it's relaxed compared to the European market. It’s all very commercial. Although our winters aren’t as cold as your winters, so we don’t wear heavy knits, we never wear fur. The boys get around in shorts and t-shirts, something that is relaxed. The blokes, the boy-boys, they especially don’t care.
Do you wear the big international brands like Americans wear, or does Australia have it's own fashion industry? For instance, what do you wear?
I wear jeans and a t-shirt, something like a basic T is easy, so I’d definitely wear an Australian designer, like Brent Wilson or AG (Arthur Galan). And then for chinos there is a label, DrDenim, that’s where I get my chinos from. If I want shoes, I normally buy them online, on asos.com.
As a "Project Runway Australia" contestant, do you think it’s possible to make your mark in the world of Australian fashion after the show?
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