PRS8: Meet A. J. Thouvenot and Valerie Mayen
Birthplace/Hometown: St. Louis, MO
Current Home: St. Charles, MO
What is a fashion must? Bling. I love lots of jewelry.
What is your design training? BFA in fashion design from Lindenwood University, design internship at Heatherette NYC.
What’s influenced your designs over the years? Rave culture and the underground club scene, pop and rock music, and tabloid culture.
What’s your favorite material or fabric to work with? Taffeta, tulle and children’s cotton prints.
Guiltiest pleasure? Britney Spears.
Favorite Designer: Heatherete, Jeremy Scott, John Galliano
Style Icon: Paris Hilton and Cyndi Lauper
Project Runway challenge you hope they bring back for your season?
The one where they made garments out of pieces from the Atlas Apartments.
Favorite Past Project Runway Designer: Santino Rice, Season 2. He’s totally rock and roll, and we’re both originally from St. Charles, Missouri.
The Rave culture and the underground club scene is where A.J. gets most of his inspiration. He first began creating club wear for himself which garnered a lot of interest and lead to creating costumes for drag queens and local club performers. One of the first garments A.J. ever made, a tunic made out of rubber exercise bands, did not survive its first wearing but nonetheless made him strive for more. He is most proud of a dress he made for his friend’s 25th birthday party. “It was one of those moments where the girl, the dress, and the time were all in sync.”
Why he’ll win?A.J. will win because he has a fresh, young, and unique voice that will pull the fashion industry out of its current funk. Also, his avant-garde designs, forward thinking and the playful element in his clothes will separate him from the rest.
Okay, first impressions: We kind of love that he interned at Heatherette. We’re not the biggest fans of that label, but it’s at least a little more interesting than, say, Ralph Lauren. Also, we love the weirdness of having your two style icons be Paris Hilton and Cyndi Lauper. That’s quite a range. Remind us: has PR ever had a clubwear designer? None are springing to mind right away.
And who doesn’t love a big girl fashion designer?
Let’s look at the work:
Well, you can definitely see the Heatherette influence. A lot of this isn’t to our taste (mainly because it’s designed for people half our age), but it’s strong point of view and it’ll be interesting to see if he can work within the confines of the competition. After all, he can’t bang out a whacky clubwear outfit for every challenge.
Birthplace/Hometown: Corpus Christi, TX
Current Home: Cleveland, OH
What’s influenced your designs over the years? The marriage of mod vintage looks with contemporary cutting-edge style.
What is a fashion must? Boots. Preferably slimming, knee-length leather boots with a small heel.
What’s your favorite material or fabric to work with? Interlock cotton knit and wool. They are so substantial and generally natural fibers.
What are your favorite colors? Mustard yellow, cherry red, cerulean blue, eggplant purple, titanium white.
How would you dress first lady Michelle Obama? A coat that doubled as a dress.
Project Runway challenge you hope they bring back for your season? The car-parts challenge. I love that one. It’s a breeding ground for innovation and creativity!
Favorite Designers: Rudi Gernreich, Stefano Pilati, Leanne Marshall
Favorite Past Project Runway Designer: Leanne Marshall, Season 5
Allison Kelly, Season 4 and Jay McCarroll, Season 1
After receiving her Business of Fine Arts degree from the Cleveland Institute of Art, Valerie realized her dream was not to be an illustrator and graphic designer, but to be a fashion designer. In the short time Valerie has been in fashion design, she has received multiple accolades and awards. She has received 2 Critics Choice Awards, recognizing her designs as the best in the 2006 and 2007 school quarter. She also received a Creative Workforce Fellowship, an Arts Business and Innovation Award and placed 2nd in a fur free fashion competition. Her designs are heavily influenced by the marriage of mod vintage looks with contemporary cutting edge style.
Why she’ll win?
Valerie feels her good aesthetic, strong craftsmanship and hard work will be the key to her winning. She hopes to use her winnings to help other designers reach their dreams in the name of fashion.
Peggy Moffitt and Rudy Gernreich? Okay, we love her.
Confession time: We met Valerie a few months ago. See, Jay McCarroll had a booth at a crafts fair here in Philly not far from our house and we went down to say hello and offer bloggy support. As it is whenever we encounter Jay in public, it wasn’t conducive to conversation because he always has fans coming up to him. Not wanting to get in the way of his schmoozing, we took a walk around the rest of the fair to see the booths. We were both attracted to one booth that had these gorgeous, impeccably constructed articles of clothing in brilliant colors with a lot of pleating details somewhat similar to Leanne Marshall’s techniques. We went over to get a closer look and struck up a short conversation with the designer, Valerie. She volunteered that she had tried out for Project Runway and was about to hear within the week if she made it in. We said, “That’s funny, because we were just thinking, ‘This gal needs to try out for Project Runway.’ We blog about the show.” With that her eyes went wide and she said very loudly “OHMIGOD, YOU’RE TOM AND LORENZO!!!!”
And can we say? We will NEVER get tired of that reaction.
Anyway, we offered her a little bit of advice as to how to stay on the show (offer a strong point of view for Nina to defend and turn yourself into a character so that the producers will advocate for you to stay no matter how bad you do) and wished her well. We were thrilled when the first pictures of the season were released and it was revealed that she had made it in.
That is a KILLA work space.
She told us she brought cupcakes to her casting. You can see them for a split second when she walks in. She’s sweet, right?
Gorgeous. Definitely a contender and like we told her, this is the kind of work that Nina will defend because of its point of view and Michael will defend because of its craftsmanship.
More info on A. J. Thouvenot and Valerie Mayen at myLifetime.com.