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LAST month Winnipeg played host to its very own version of the hit reality series Project Runway, and I was lucky enough to be asked to sit as one of the judges.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/04/2006 (5950 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

LAST month Winnipeg played host to its very own version of the hit reality series Project Runway, and I was lucky enough to be asked to sit as one of the judges.

For those not familiar with the televised New York City version of the show, here’s a brief description of the Winnipeg version to bring you up to speed.

Twenty-three novice and experienced designers — that’s right, 23; who knew the city was home to so many? — competed over a five-week period for a chance to be hailed king or queen of the city’s fashion scene.

Each week designers were given a theme — for example, The Red Carpet, Pyjama Party or Clubwear — a budget to pick up fabric and supplies and one week to come up with a unique and stylish garment.

And while there were several talented designers in this fashion challenge — many have their own clothing lines that are carried in various boutiques across the city — only one designer could be hailed as the first winner of Project Runway Winnipeg.

And the winner is… drum roll please… Alex Espinosa, a local independent designer who has been creating custom garments for Winnipeggers since the early ’80s.

His winning garments ranged from a gold lace bra-and-panty set teamed up with a luxurious gun-metal grey housecoat to a pretty-pretty princess evening dress in bubblegum pink and a sassy leopard-print top, circle skirt and custom leather jacket made from reworked vintage clothes.

Not only were the pieces interesting to look at, reflecting Spinosa’s unique vision, but the quality of work reflected the many years the designer has spent in the business.

Clean lines and precision are what set this designer apart from others in the competition. While many of the competitors were better than good with a sewing machine, Espinosa’s work was consistent and clean.

Espinosa, who turns 49 this year, says he has been interested in fashion designing for as long as he can remember. He credits his talents to the members of his family who encouraged him to follow in their footsteps.

“It runs in the family,” says the designer of his skills. “My grandma raised her kids to make clothes for people and my mom has a diploma in fashion design in the Philippines, so I grew up with a sewing machine and clients in the house all the time.”

But ultimately it’s beauty that drives the designer to create his clothing. Espinosa says he draws upon a client’s inner and outer beauty when designing for them, and he looks for textures and shapes that will reflect that same beauty.

“When I’m designing it depends on the person. I’m really inspired by the magic of beauty and how I can make the clothing look beautiful. Also the fabric really inspires me a lot,” says Espinosa.

He adds that he respects all the designers who participated in the Project Runway challenge and offered him such tough competition. He also says his advice to aspiring designers or those who didn’t make the top five this year is to continue pursuing their design careers and to never give up on their dreams.

For more information on Espinosa’s work, visit http://alexespinosa.bravehost.com.

connietamotofashion@hotmail.com

PHOTO WAYNE GLOWACKI/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

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