Project Accessory: Meet the Designers
As we wind down this season of Project Runway, and as the comment-section debating reaches a fever pitch, we figure now’s probably a good time to slip this in. Because no matter the outcome of Project Runway, there will be mass declarations of never watching the show again and days-long, if not months long arguing about who should have won. The poor little worker bees who put this little spinoff together are going to get completely ignored in all the shouting.
Yes, Project Accessory premieres tomorrow at 10:30 p.m. right after the Project Runway finale episode. While you’ll be screaming either in joy or in anguish. Since you will be likely to miss all the introductions (due to your screaming), let’s get them out of the way now. Because let’s face it: you’ll watch, just out of morbid curiosity. Look at it this way, if you wind up pissed at Heidi, Nina, and Michael, at least you won’t have to look at them for this show. Meet the B-Team: Molly Sims, lifestyle expert Eva Lorenzotti, InStyle Editor Ariel Foxman and designer Kenneth Cole.
Now meet the little attention whores you’ll be rooting for:
Adrian Dana began his design career at age 17, creating church hats for his mother. Since then, the milliner has studied at Parsons School of Design and attended The American College of Applied Arts in Atlanta. Adrian later moved back to New York, where he joined I.N.C.’s creative department for Macy’s and spent time working as Isaac Mizrahi’s personal assistant. He also worked for Banana Republic, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Limited Design Studio, BBDO, Avon Corporate inc, MTV, Audrey Smaltz, Aldo Hat Company and Nordstrom. Adrian has designed for celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey (for a 2003 cover of Essence magazine) and had his hats featured in the film “Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion.” Some of his additional celebrity clientele are Kylie Minogue, Niki Taylor and the cast of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.” Many of his hats have also been worn to the Kentucky Derby.
Brian Burkhardt is a graduate of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and uses his sculpting background in the creation of his jewelry. Burkhardt is co-owner of the jewelry company Triian, with wife and fellow sculptor Trisha Brookbank. The two recently had their first child, a little boy named Oliver. Burkhardt’s work has been featured in publications such as Nylon, Time Out New York, Miami Modern Luxury and Cravings Magazine. His artwork has been exhibited at Miller Block Gallery (Boston), Judi Rotenberg Gallery (Boston), Bernice Steinbaum Gallery (Miami), Gallery Diet (Miami), Freight and Volume (New York), Kathleen Cullen Fine Arts (New York), Volume Gallery (New York), Wyoming Art Museum and The Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), among others.
At an early age Christina Caruso knew that she wanted to work in the fashion industry. When other kids were getting summer jobs at the mall, she was applying for internships. While in high school, she interned with Isaac Mizrahi and got her first taste of the fashion world. Caruso attended Parsons School of Design, where was encouraged to focus on accessories. In her senior year, Caruso started making jewelry and hand-knit bags out of her apartment. At a downtown party, her bold jewels attracted costumer Patricia Field, who selected many of Caruso’s jewelry and bags for Sarah Jessica Parker to wear in “Sex and the City.” Caruso went to an open call for Bendels and had her line selected to be sold in their stores. She also sold her handmade accessories to Fred Segal in Santa Monica, California, Patricia Field boutique, Hotel Venus and Takashimaya.
Her designs have been featured in magazines such as W, Vogue, Allure, Seventeen and Lucky, and have been seen on Sarah Jessica Parker, Britney Spears, Kim Cattrall, Claire Danes and Rosario Dawson. Caruso has also dabbled in fashion styling for Jive Records and was a spokesperson for Suave HAIR VIBE.
Cotrice founded her Atlanta-based studio, The Cotrice Collection, in 2000. The line is inspired by all things earthly, with a logo patterned of intertwining leaves, enveloped within a globe that protects its contents. Her designs first appeared in the pages of Upscale magazine and were featured at Brooklyn Fashion Weekend. At an accessories show in New York, Cotrice attracted the attention of an Urban Outfitters buyer, who ended up ordering pieces to be included in their Free People catalog. Cotrice is a self-taught designer who specializes in neck pieces, bracelets, cuffs and earrings. Her celebrity clientele includes Regina King and Angie Stone.
A former collegiate football player for University of Alabama, David Grieco is a self-taught designer who has been a fine-art sculptor for over 17 years. He is the creator of The Justice Bodan Collection, which initially launched with a line of belts and has recently expanded to include bags, jewelry and gift items. Justice Bodan is a fictional character who travels the world, journaling his experiences. He travels from country to country, continent to continent, searching for nothing. He is only seeking to have experiences that will enable him to feel more connected to everyone and everything. Each destination helps him relate a little more closely to himself and to the human experience. David feels each design in The Justice Bodan Collection is wearable art. David’s celebrity clientele includes Jennifer Aniston, Hilary Swank, Gwyneth Paltrow, Matthew McConaughey and Jason Bateman. David is married and a father of two.
Diego Rocha is a Brazilian-born handbag designer who started out in accounting in the financial field in Sao Paulo, before he began chasing his dream. His mother was a patternmaker, and he grew up playing with needles, scissors and colorful scraps of cloth. Diego is inspired by interesting skins and animals, influenced by growing up in a country known for its huge variety of unusual wildlife. Before choosing Chicago in 2005, Diego lived in New York, where he perfected his self-taught skills. Creating his own collection, he locked himself in his apartment for six months and experimented with materials, struggling with unsuitable equipment as he taught himself techniques to crystallize his vision. Although his specialty is handbags, he also designs cuffs, wallets, card holders and bags for men.
Originally from Denver, James Sommerfeldt currently lives and works in Chicago, Illinois. He also spent some time in San Diego and Canada while growing up. His affinity for design began at the age of five, when he was inspired by the magic and enchantment of Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, who instilled in him a sense of grace and enchantment. His father, a design engineer, taught him design principles and fundamentals of engineering solid construction. Together, they built custom furniture to suit his mother’s taste. His mother taught him to draft and pattern fabrics, sew home furnishings and mend clothing, providing James with an essential foundation for footwear design in later years. In 2005, James enrolled at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he is currently a senior. The passion for patternmaking and building that his parents ingrained in him led him to pursue footwear design. Through his affiliation with the school, James was offered a studio assistant position with internationally acclaimed fiber artist Nick Cave in 2008. Over the course of the next two years, James became aware of the global impact and importance of conservation, recycling and repurposing materials as a contemporary artist and designer through his work with Nick. This past March, James left his position to be by his ailing grandmother’s side. Since then, he has devoted his time and energy to developing his shoemaking and footwear design career.
Originally from Philadelphia, New York City–based handbag designer Kelly Horton has designed a line of handbags inspired by the lifestyle of the metropolitan woman. A self-taught designer, Kelly first made her way into the world of fashion not as a designer, but instead as a support assistant for fashion guru Jeffrey Kalinsky, the director of designer merchandising at Nordstrom’s as well as the owner of the popular boutiques Jeffrey’s, Bob Ellis Atlanta and Jeffrey’s New York. Her passion for fashion and love of the arts inspired her to take a chance and branch off on her own to pursue a career as an accessory designer. Kelly began conceptualizing and designing original pieces, making jewelry for herself and friends, which eventually evolved into her making handbags. Stylists began taking notice and requesting designs, using them on-set for photo shoots and red-carpet events. In spring 2006, Kelly launched Madison Kelly NYC, a designer label of her handcrafted handbags. The collection consisted of unique contemporary pieces with creative design structure, various textures and vibrant colors. The designs are edgy originals with the functional simplicity of a great handbag. Kelly decided to redefine the traditional handbag and push the envelope with oversized hobos with nontraditional dimensions, custom hardware and exotic skins.
Nicolina Royale’s design career began as a child, when she used to dig through junk drawers or through her grandpa’s toolbox to find a treasure, take it apart and create a piece of jewelry from whatever she was able to find. From the age of three, she competed in beauty pageants, winning crowns that later served as an inspiration for her line’s signature brand, logo and designs. At seven, a trip to Paris and London inspired her craze for fashion, art and design. A Minnesota native, Nicolina attended the University of Minnesota as journalism major with an art minor. Craving a more artistic lifestyle, Nicolina moved to L.A. for an unpaid internship at “Entertainment Tonight,” paying the bills as a server at The Rainbow Bar & Grill on the infamous Sunset Strip. The minute she stepped in the door of the Rainbow, she fell in love with rock ’n’ roll. Nancy Sinatra was her first customer, followed by CC Deville of Poison. Those meetings led Nicolina to begin creating rocker-inspired jewelry. Her signature aesthetic blends fine leathers or exotic skins with industrial hardware, studs or spikes and intricate Swarovski crystals. Her handcrafted, rebel artistry, along with her endless imagination, unites classic elements such as pearls with oxidized chains or industrial hardware hinges with Italian leather, door knockers with crocodile or stingray, or even mixing in real nuts or bolts. In 2007, a Bloomingdales executive discovered Nicolina Royale on the streets of New York. Within weeks, Nicolina Royale was a Bloomies brand, launching her signature guitar-pick cuff links, followed by her cuffs, bracelets and necklaces. Nicolina Royale’s celebrity fans include Steven Tyler, Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, LMFAO, Far East Movement and Linkin Park.
Named one of Sofi Magazine’s “33 Emerging Creative Minds to Know” in 2011, Nina Cortes was born and raised in Miami by her Cuban family. The tomboy-turned-popular-cheerleader didn’t discover her design ability until she took a jewelry and metalsmithing class while in college. After that, she began creating jewelry as a hobby and soon started selling her wares to friends and family. She later signed with business partner Iliana Ruiz, and within two years, opened her own studio and store. Her jewelry company, Nina Loren, strives to create jewelry for women of all ages.
Influenced by his multi-generational roots as a heavy-duty diesel mechanic in the post-industrial wasteland of east New Jersey for 15 years, Rich Sandomeno’s aesthetic was formed early on by his love for machines and the decaying urban cityscape, as well as the obscure and organic. Jewelry making began as a hobby, but the growing interest from friends and collectors alike led Rich to the path of designing accessories. In 2002, Richard launched his company, Spragwerks, and moved to Brooklyn. The steady rise of demand and attention from both clients and media led to Spragwerks’ 2006 relocation to Los Angeles. Spragwerks designs are favored by Hollywood luminaries and can be spotted on numerous commercials, and in television shows and movies. Spragwerks has been featured in countless media outlets, including Inked Magazine, Juxtapoz, Time Out NewYork and Vogue, to name a few.
Actress-turned-jewelry-designer Shea Curry began hand-making jewelry in her trailer on the set of “The Princess Diaries 2 – The Royal Engagement.” While working in the film, she made a unique piece of jewelry for each female member of the cast and crew. But it wasn’t until she designed her own pink wedding dress, bridal jewelry and bridesmaids’ jewelry, which was featured in InStyle Weddings magazine, that she really began taking her design seriously. Shea went from hand-making each piece of jewelry to learning every aspect of jewelry/ accessory design, from creating a sketch, making waxes, models and mold, to soldering before creating her finished pieces for her Shameless jewelry line. Her pieces make a statement for the woman who wants to stand out in the crowd, with Swarovski stones, feathers or hand-painted enamel. Shea is inspired by the beautiful, confident women in her life as well as the organic beauty of nature. Big on charity work, Shea also designed a piece for the Breast Cancer Charities of America. Her celebrity clientele includes Fergie, Neve Campbell, Sophia Monk, Lucy Hale and Lo Bosworth. On the acting end, Shea will next be seen in “New Year’s Eve,” directed by Garry Marshall and starring Josh Duhamel, premiering this December.
[Photo/Bio Credit: myLifetime.com]