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Project Runway’s Kevin Johnn – Interview with the Designer About How the Show Changed his Life, His Fall Collection “You”, & the Proper Way to Pronounce Donna Karan’s Name – WEEKLY FASHIONTRIBES FASHION PODCAST

Project Runway’s Kevin Johnn – Interview with the Designer About How the Show Changed his Life, His Fall Collection “You”, & the Proper Way to Pronounce Donna Karan’s Name – WEEKLY FASHIONTRIBES FASHION PODCAST - MP3 File

Johnn_kevin_pic Despite being catapulted from working New York designer to a face familiar to millions of addicted Project Runway viewers, Kevin Johnn  - – remains refreshingly friendly and unaffected.

Johnn_donna_karan A graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago, Johnn has worked for everyone from Thierry Mugler to Donna Karan – the correct pronounciation of which still remains a mystery. “I worked at Donna Karan before I went on Project Runway. But I worked at Donna ke-RAN, not Donna “Karen” – and I would be corrected. But I could never say that to people, it was too affected. I would say Donnan Karan.Doesn’t everybody call it Donna Karan…who calls it Donna Ke-RAN?”

Fashiontribes got the dish from this soft-spoken charmer on everything from how the Emmy-nominated show changed his life to his we’re-all-the-same-underneath inspired Fall collection.

“I think it made me mainstream – now I’m the Ronald McDonald of fashion!” jokes Johnn. In addition to significantly broadening his customer base, it turned him into a celebrity. “I’m unable to go out into the streets, basically, without having a confrontation with someone,” he explains. One besotted fan ran into Johnn on the street, and in a cringeworthy move, tripped and fell flat on her face. “I felt so bad. I didn’t know if I should help her, or keep walking because it was so embarassing. That was the most tragic one.”

In addition to internet adulation – he’s got at least one site devoted to his status as a  “Dream Man” – he also gets his share of very cute, very young thangs who have ferreted out the address of his downtown Manhattan studio and have a disconcerting habit of showing up at his downtown Manhattan studio. “I get a lot of young girls – I know my audience, for sure, based on the show, who like me – but there’s a lot of really young girls who would knock on my door to stop by. These girls want to share half a sandwich and a soup with me,” says Johnn with a laugh.

Johnn_isabella_blow As an up and coming designer championed by no less than supa’star English stylist Isabella Blow – she of the extravagant hats! – Johnn’s clothes are characterized by a European flair and intelligent design. “I’m known to be organic, honest, very honest – meaning real – but still modern,” explains Johnn, who was first inspired to become a designer while in Chicago (and still pronouncing the designer's name “Jean Paul go-tee-AIR”). His work has been compared to Alexander McQueen for overall look, and to french designer Thierry Mugler (who he worked for in New York and Paris) for his fitted cut.

Johnn_look_2 Johnn_pants Johnn_pink_coat Johnn_camel_coatBased on the different colors of the skin, Johnn started his Fall 2005 show with a pale blonde model in winter white, and the clothes got progressively more colorful – from café au lait to chocolate brown, on brunette and Latino models – ending with black dresses on black models. “It was called You, and it was basically a statement – as much as I could, as a fashion designer, get away with making a statement,” explains Johnn, an idealist who is deeply bothered by the race divide. “I made it a reference to equal ethnicity, meaning that we’re all kind of the same. Here we are different tribes, but also, we all are one in the whole spectrum of things. It was to show that we’re all the same value – same color, different values.”

Johnn_fur Johnn_smoking Johnn_brown_coat Johnn_black_dress


  • Johnn_coat COATS This collection has tons of great coats. (I’m lusting after this one.)
  • Johnn_neck_piece TUBE SCARF This camel scarf is handily sewn into a tube shape so it doesn’t fall off your neck
  • Johnn_suede_belt_look SUEDE, SUEDE, SUEDE ...& with buckles - twice as nice!

Johnn_susanne_bartsch Johnn met designer Thierry Mugler through legendary New York downtown party fixture Susanne Barsch and crafted a showstopper for her nuptials to gym impresario David Barton. “It was a big egg. A rebirth, her wedding was a rebirth. And David Barton was naked, walking down the runway with just a fleshtone leather g-string.”

Johnn_proj_runway_pic Fortunately, for Johnn’s legions of Project Runway fans: he’s back for season two! Not only did he design host Heidi Klum’s dresses - while she was over seven months pregnant - he’ll appear in the first couples of episodes. “There’s also a little segment of what’s-he-doing? Production wanted to call is where-is-he-now?” Wisely, he made them re-name it (too many bad, has-been VH-1 Where-Are-They-Now? Connotations).

But don't look for him anytime soon on VH-1 - he hasn’t any plans to disappear, retire, or otherwise rest on his Project Runway laurels anytime soon. "I love what I’m doing, and I’ll be doing it the rest of my life, I know that for sure. I’m not a designer who’s ever going to do anything else. No label ever stays as “the” label or designer stays “the” designer. But they always seem to find their way back. I’ll just keep on going, and if you see me go up or down, just hang on tight, it’s going to be a little bumpy of a ride at times.”

July 19, 2005 in Fashion, Fashiontribes 911, Fashiontribes Files, PODCAST, Pop Culture | Permalink


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u guys rocked!i really love your week is not complete if don't watch your show i hope i can join on your show in the future you guys really inspired me....i hope your show will continue run forever love you guys and god bless...

Posted by: rhom | Nov 25, 2006 8:59:54 PM

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