By Andrew Moreno
Posted: October 2008
Yes! We are so lucky. Jerell (Project
Runway) decided to sit down for a quick one-
on-one interview. Not only did we learn more
about Jerell as a designer, but to our
welcomed surprise, we learned so much
Jerell started his career in modeling and
found his attraction for design early on. To
many, he's the one to beat on Runway! And,
to others, he's a Son of Gun.
Moreno: Jerell, you’re something of a
pleasant surprise. You have most
recently outlined your status on PR as
the one to beat. Did you find that you
had to up the ante on PR? In other
words, take your designs further?
Jerell: I took every challenge presented to
myself and my fellow designers on the show
as an opportunity to really show the judges
and the world what it is that I do. Who I am
as a designer, and why I was even there in
the first place-I never played it safe.
Moreno: Let’s take it back some. Where are you from; and how would you
describe your childhood?
Jerell: Originally, I was born in Houston, Texas and at four-years-old my family moved to
Los Angeles. I come from a hard working lower middle class family. We didn't have
much, but my parents were very generous with what we did have. They encouraged my
sister and I to be expressive. I give them much thanks and credit for the way they raised
us. It has much to do to with who I am today. I am very happy with me.
Moreno: Tell us about your first paid design experience?
Jerell: It was kind of a fluke. I used to model and it wasn't as lucrative as you might
imagine. I didn't have the sweet greenbacks to afford luxorious wears, so out of necessity
I reconstructed fantastic fits for myself. It wasn't long before friends and stylists started
inquiring about the origins of my luxury goods. More than once I literally sold the shirt off
Moreno: Tell us about Jerell before he was a designer, what were his struggles
Jerell: As I mentioned before, I was a model and at young age I was relocated from the
High Desert to New York, which at the time was a major accomplishment. Some of my
struggles I faced included, but are not limited to the following: maintaining clear skin in a
grimy urban landscape, eating on a daily basis, couch surfing and keeping a roof over my
head, doing my best to maintain a fabulous lifestyle on a budget of nothing, and learning
all sorts of new things about my body; let's not forget I was only 18 at the time. Until
Project Runway the highlight of my life was playing Janet Jackson's boyfriend in the "Son
of a Gun" music video.
Moreno: What experiences has led to your growth as a designer?
Jerell: I'd have to say life in general. Now that was an experience!
Moreno: What were your first impressions of your colleagues on Project
Jerell: Have you seen the Geico caveman commercials-just kidding. I never went to
design school, so I never had the opportunity to be around so many people who share
the same passion as me. They were such a diverse and talented group it truly was an
honor to compete against them.
Moreno: What would your fellow colleagues say about you as a designer?
Jerell: I think they would all agree unanimously that I have the skill level of Karl Lagerfeld
and the grace of Coco Chanel. I am genuinely two scoops of raisins.
Moreno: Let’s switch to male fashion, what are the basic do’s and don’ts?
Jerell: As a whole, I celebrate the individual. As far as Do's and Don'ts, present yourself
with confidence and there are no limits. Although you should always steer clear of stirrups.
Moreno: What’s one fashion trend you wish you hadn't, but did?
Jerell: Those damn Kim Catrall double breasted power suits. I too wanted to look
If they made a film about your life, what would it be called?
"Panhandling through the Chap stick Jungle 'round the corner to Terabithia"
What’s something you used to believe about life, but not anymore?
That I did not have total control over my own destiny.
What songs are in your iPod?
Earl Moore "Waiting for your Stare" (my models walked to it at Bryant Park), The new
Britney and Alanis. I have to say I'm pretty top forty with a healthy appetite for Gyno-Rock.
Frowning. It takes more muscles but it's totally worth it.
Complete the following sentences:
Yesterday, "I woke up late because I was out late the night before."
Life has taught me, "It's ok to believe in others as long as you believe in yourself."
“Mariah Carey's Physique” is an illusion.
Major thanks to Jerell!
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