Louisville’s Gunnar Deatherage will return to the spotlight this fall for Lifetime’s “Project Runway All Stars” Season 4 as one of 14 talented designers. Deatherage previously appeared on seasons 9 and 10 of “Project Runway,” instantly becoming a fan favorite. The all-star designer has managed to maintain his reality-star status while creating two collections that are near complete, one of which will launch the same night of his “Project Runway All Stars” premiere.
Insider Louisville sat down with Deatherage to discover what makes up Deatherage Designs. The 24-year-old has established himself as a wearer of many hats. Whether he is designing a set and cutting wigs for an editorial shoot, styling and coloring hair for private clients, flying off to New York City to film, or tediously working in his studio on his two collections, Deatherage never seems to stop.
Insider Louisville: What is going to be different this time around on “Project Runway All Stars” from your last time on Season 10?
Gunnar Deatherage: This time is different because I’m going into it with a more strategic way of looking at things. There is so much more that’s going to come out of this experience, beyond the show, that people don’t think about. The challenges are obviously bigger, the prize is a lot bigger, but I’m also competing against people who are very well established designers.
What made you hesitate to say yes to the “All Stars” show?
It’s such an overwhelming experience. Positive in the fact that you are really building a fan base, and the negative in that you don’t really know what to do with that fan base. And then you’re getting all of the attention on your work, and then you’re also getting all of these people bashing you on blogs … I think I found ways of coping with that in understanding that I knew who I was regardless what people thought.
How are you as a contestant different from Season 10?
As far as personality, people are going to see someone completely different. They’re going to be expecting someone really brash that’s in your face. And I don’t think that role is going to come off this season, because I didn’t feel like I needed to force it. I have a fan base and I have people who know me, and I’m not trying to alter that.
What was it like presenting to a new set of judges?
I actually much prefer the all-star judges. Simply because Isaac Mizrahi is just one of the original American designers. He helped found what today is New York fashion … and then there’s Georgina Chapman who co-founded Marchesa. Marchesa is a stunning brand. Especially from the two of them, I really admire their opinions and I really respect their opinions.
What was your favorite experience as a contestant on this new season?
I think this time — aside from the passion I took from it — the people. This time coming back I knew who everyone was. We all knew who each other were. It was a very awesome experience to be able to see these people who are doing amazing things and to pick their brains and share knowledge and resources. I came home feeling so incredibly refreshed.
After seven weeks of filming, the self-taught designer returned to Louisville where he was reunited with his two collections, one of which he has titled “Destination-HYDRA.” The name stems from the story of a girl escaping her troubles and finding her destination for personal growth on Pluto’s largest moon, Hydra. Deatherage explains, ”If you look at photos of space and look at the idea of space, something I enjoy about it is it makes me feel small. I think it’s easy to get caught up in problems and these petty little issues that we get wound up in, and, in reality, we’re nothing.”
Spacial matter like auroras, electrical storms and galaxies are inspirations for the collection. Deatherage emphasizes structure and shapes while taking chances in designing for two types of women with two very different design aesthetics. ”That is why I’m calling it an artisanal line, because it’s my form of art. I think fashion is very debatably art. I think if you can make money off of what you’re doing, it’s fashion. I think if you can push it forward to make a statement, it’s an art form.”
The second collection is a ready-to-wear line inspired by military fatigues. This line is affordable and transitional with pieces that are able to be worn different ways. Producing each piece himself, Deatherage will have multiple sizes of many pieces available. “It’s all about ready-to-wear and mixing and matching. It’s all about neutrality. It’s also about organic-feeling fabrics. They’re pieces you can throw into your wardrobe that you currently have,” he says.
Whether it be eccentric and mythical or comfortable and transitional, the two fall/winter collections are beyond this world. Be sure to check out Gunnar Deatherage’s debut on Lifetime’s “Project Runway All Stars” premiering Oct. 30 at 9 p.m., as well as his ready-to-wear collection that will launch the same day.