Thursday, July 16, 2009

Local Boy Makes Good: 'Project Runway' contestant Ra'mon Lawrence Coleman give us the scoop!

By Jahna Peloquin

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've most likely heard the news: longtime l'étoile BFF and uber-talented fashion designer Ra'mon Lawrence Coleman is a contestant on the upcoming season of wildly popular reality show, Project Runway, and we couldn't be more happy for him! Ra'mon has been an inspiring force in the Twin Cities fashion scene for the past few years, participating in such high profile events as Voltage: Fashion Amplified, and producing his own solo show, Eluded Love, last year during MN Fashion Week. Since auditioning for the show, rumors swirled in the local scene; his unexpected departure as a designer for Target, followed a long absence from Minneapolis left people wondering. Despite speculations, the creative dynamo sat on this privileged information for almost a year, while competing networks Bravo! and Lifetime battled it out for rights to air the show. When the dust settled, Lifetime came out on top and will be broadcasting Season Six beginning August 20th.

Keep your eyes peeled for info on l'étoile sponsored Project Runway viewing parties at downtown Minneapolis' Hell's Kitchen -- which not-so-coincidentally enough is owned by Project Runway Season 4 vet, Katherine Gerdes' family!

l'étoile chatted with Ra'mon Lawrence Coleman this week about Project Runway, fashion, and the Minneapolis scene...

l'étoile: So it’s been quite a year for you. You first auditioned for Project Runway back in, what was it, August?

Ra'mon: It was actually July when I did the initial audition.

l'étoile: What was the audition process like?

Ra'mon: The process was very fast but with a lot of steps to it. We started with an audition tape and application and then submitted that. Then there was a group interview and a one-on-one interview where I had a chance to present previous collections and talk to about my portfolio, and also for them to have a perspective of who I am as a person and a designer.

l'étoile: How has your life changed since last year? A lot has happened!

Ra'mon: There was a moment where I literally said to some of the other castmates – there’s a quantifiable date when life will never be the same. Now that it has become public knowledge, there’s a whole wave of attention that’s happening. It’s really flattering and anyone who would say otherwise would be lying. This door has opened where my voice as a designer has a national if not international voice to it, I’m just awe-inspired to be blessed not just by the program but the opportunity. There’s a lot of emotions, it’s exciting but there’s also, oh my gosh, some panic to it. I’m just humbled by it.

l'étoile: It sounds like your perspective has changed more than anything.

Ra'mon: There’s two sides to it. One, will I be coined as a reality TV star – yeah, there’s that. It’s insane and crazy and I never thought it’d be something that’d be associated with me as a designer. But on the other side of it I’m a designer and everything I’ve done has lead up to this. It might not sound like it but I’m super-elated. My perspective on life is not the same because there’s much more on the horizon for me than I would have imagined.

l'étoile: How does it feel to finally be able to talk about the fact that you’re on the show? I’m sure it was painful trying to hold it all in!

Ra'mon: It’s interesting because I’m really good at keeping secrets from people but to not be able to talk about something that’s so exciting, I mean…wow. I’m happy things happened the way they did. It’s a long time coming for this but there’s also this renewed excitement for the show and the fans of the show are still out there, and now there are new fans and a chance to expand on our representation to America. I couldn’t have hoped for something better and I’m glad I can talk about it, and the fact that so many people know…(he talks to his publicist, who’s on the line) Megan, can you put Jahna on mute for a second?

Megan: I’m sorry, I don’t know how to do that. I would say err on the side of caution.

l'étoile: You can’t talk about it.

Ra'mon: No, but it’s great to see the excitement in people’s eyes.

l'étoile: What have you been keeping busy with all this time?

Ra'mon: Oh my god. What haven’t I been? You know me, I’m a guy who likes to juggle many things. So after the experience I really have been keeping my hands busy in different projects, one of which has been now coming to Kohl’s and collaborating with Lauren Conrad on her upcoming line in addition to helping update some of the other lines, including the relaunch of Mudd, which just hit stores. I think it looks phenomenal. The old school Mudd fans will be very pleased and the new guard fashionistas will be excited. And cultivating my brand for ra’mon-lawrence to be really what I want to it be, which is bringing really unique, eclectic designs to every tier of the market because I think there’s a fashionista everywhere.

l'étoile: How do you balance your job with Kohl’s and all the things you have to do for Project Runway? Are they cool with you jetting off to the coasts constantly?

Ra'mon: I think the company as a whole are very supportive of cultivating designers. They heard the same thing everything else
in the country heard, and they’ve been extremely supportive and I think they’ll continue to be. I’m used to balancing so many different things because I’m interested in so many different things – different avenues of art, fashion and design and I like to see myself as a perpetual student. Designing for Kohl’s and Target before has given me a perspective of the average American in general and design integrity and design innovative, so those things work hand in hand. And I like to be busy.

l'étoile: Regardless of the outcome of Project Runway, what’s next for Ra’mon-Lawrence Coleman?

Ra'mon: World domination? (laughs) Oh no. The future is looking bright. I don’t want to be cheesy by saying that but there’s so may opportunities that will come about. I don’t know, I’m optimistic. If anything, I want to focus on the projects I have, and I want to introduce ramon-lawrence as a brand to the national public.

l'étoile: How has Minneapolis shaped your career?

Ra'mon: Oh my gosh. Minneapolis as a city has probably been the most influential place that I’ve lived as far as my career as a designer. The great thing about Minneapolis is that it epitomizes what’s happening in our nation. Some people think the most important hubs are New York and L.A. But if you look at cities like Chicago and Minneapolis that have amazing arts community but are considered second tier, there’s actually stronger support for independent artists. That’s the fantastic thing about MNfashion. It was the driving force as far as me getting out there as a designer and in a stronger sense the energy is so fresh. I’m a Chicagoan but I like to consider myself a Minneapolitan. I will always love Minneapolis.

l'étoile: We will always love you!

For more information on Project Runway click HERE.

Visit Ra'mon Lawrence Coleman's site HERE.

Photo credits:

1. Vanessa Meade
2. Robb Long for the Downtown Journal
3. Gene Pittman for the Walker Un-Prom
4. Vanessa Meade
5. Robb Long for the Downtown Journal
6. Vanessa Meade

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