Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Christopher Straub Interview & Project Runway Video Game

Always wanted to be a contestant on Project Runway? Well, now you can see if you have what it takes, because Atari recently released the Project Runway video game for Wii and PC. Stay tuned, because in an upcoming post, Vyque and I are going to play the game and find out if we should quit our day jobs and apply for the next season of Project Runway or if we will receive a swift "auf weidersehen" from Heidi Klum. Not only that, but you'll have the chance to win your very own copy of the game and see if you can, ahem, "make it work."

In the meantime, we were thrilled to have the opportunity to speak to Season 6 contestant, Christopher Straub, who designed a fabulous dress made entirely from the Project Runway game packaging:

Have you played the Project Runway game yet?

CS: No I have not played yet, I am so eager to. It’s actually in the mail right now. I should be getting it today and once it arrives I’ll be tearing it open and seeing if I can be successful at the game. It will be fun.

How did you become involved with creating the dress for the game?

CS: I was approached by Atari, the maker of the game, to do something that would combine a challenge from the show but also relate back to the game, and on the show I was successful with using paper and other unconventional materials. So we put our brains together and thought let's do a dress made out of the packaging for the game.

Was it hard to create the dress out of the packaging or was it pretty easy after all those crazy project runway challenges?

CS: I personally would rather making something out of paper than make something out of silk. I like working with unique materials, and I could incorporate my style more in something wacky and so that suited me to a tee. I’ll do weird things like that for the rest of my life. That totally makes me happy. So it was truly a challenge for me. I was so eager to do it.

How was the dress used to promote the game?

CS: I flew it to New York. It traveled in a box as tall as I am, because it’s a full length gown, and it walked the red carpet at an event for the launch of the video game. Vanessa Fitzgerald from "Models of the Runway", our season, wore the dress.

How did being on the show change your life or open up any new opportunities?

CS: Yeah, truly fourteen weeks on television isn't bad for anybody. It gets your name out there and gets people familiar with your name and your style, and I’ve been able to take that and develop a collection of handbags and accessories that I’ve been selling since the show premiered. I’ve been on ShopNBC, the home shopping network, and I sell myself my stuff online at my website, and I have a new spring collection coming out and soon apparel is going to follow. I started with the handbags and accessories because fitting is so hard, especially if you are buying online, so I make pieces that it doesn’t matter if you are a 2 or a 22. Every woman needs a handbag and a wallet.

Are you going to be selling the apparel on your website as well?

Yes, I will have the apparel on there as well, and they are going to be silhouettes that women can relate to. They’re not going to be evening gowns, there are going to be some day pieces but also some sportswear like hooded sweaters and unique pieces like some embellished tees too. And wraps for spring.

How difficult was it to design and create those outfits on such a short deadline?

CS: The reality is that that the contestants on the show are so much more than just designers. They’re designers, they’re sketch artists, they’re pattern makers, they’re tailors, they’re stylists. It is truly challenging just to be in that situation, but for me, the way I work, when I would get a challenge I would lock down an idea and I would just do that idea. I didn’t waiver, and if I got some criticism or when I got my critique I would edit from there, but I would never scrap my outfit as much as some of the other designers did. They started over at the last minute. I am able to commit to a design, and that’s a big challenge on the show. To just kind of believe in yourself and do what you think is right.

To do that, and then to be judged at such a high profile is very impressive.

CS: A lot of people say, I can’t believe they didn’t give you more straight up feedback. It was all just either positive or negative. And I tell people, well you know, you’ve got to keep in mind, this is a TV show, this isn’t school. If you were in fashion school, I’m sure you’d get the full range of what you could do to improve, what you’ve done to succeed, and all the technical parts of it, but bottom line, its entertainment. So all of us that were on the show, we understand that we’re putting ourselves in the most public situation that we have ever been in, and personally for me, that was the huge risk, as a budding designer, to put yourself in a place where the possibility of ruining your fashion career existed. But the other side was that it could create a demand for your pieces.

That being said, how did Project Runway shape you as a designer?

CS: Well, before the show, I hadn’t had much training, but I also hadn’t put myself out there as much as other designers. I live in Minnesota and there is a lot of talent here, but I wasn’t part of that community; that fashion community, and now, I’m part of it, and a big part of it. So, it’s interesting that I came from relative obscurity to what Minnesota fashion might be some day. Incorporating my style and getting other designers on board with large scale projects like this.

Do you still keep in touch with any of the contestants from Season 6?

CS: A couple of them, mostly Ramon, Carol Hannah and Logan. For me, this was a such an odd moment in life where we shared this experience, and so I have this bond with everyone that was on the show, because you can never share that with somebody else, like it’s such a unique bizarre moment in our lives, and I feel this kinship to everybody on the show, but there are some that I had more in common with and some that I just relate to more, and that was those three.

What about the current season? Have you been watching it?

CS: Oh yeah! I’ve blogged about it for It’s a reality show website, actually, casting directors go to that site and post their new projects. There’s an online group that are looking to get on a reality show, so they go and check out all the castings. So its for new projects like, I want to be a, you know, whatever…a construction worker…I don’t know; to all the dating shows to Project Runway and American Idol. They just do a lot of posting about where you can find these applications for reality shows. So, I blog about the most current Project Runway Season for that.

Other than the dress for the game, do you have any current or future endeavors you’d like to talk about?

CS: Yeah, currently I am creating a collection for my premiere fashion show in April in the Twin Cities. April 25th at Saint Paul Hotel. So, I am feverishly creating pieces and doing model casting, looking at the venue, and working with sound and light people, and the hair and makeup people, trying to put that together. So that’s kind of my big project right now. Also, I’m developing another collection for ShopNBC, the home shopping network, and hopefully in either the spring or fall those pieces will premiere on there as well.

Anything else you’d like to add about the Project Runway video game?

CS: Its really cool because it puts you in the role of the fashion designer, and you compete like you’re on the show. You're given different challenges, and you create designs, choose your model, but you also get to style the hair and style the makeup. Then you become the model and you strut down the catwalk with your Wii remote and balance board. So that’s really cool too, it’s not just designing, you actually get to be the model, which is going to be fun. I hope a bunch of YouTube videos come up of, like, Grandpa up there on the Wii Fit walking as his model. So that will be super, super fun. You get to design your own fashion line or you get to tackle unique Project Runway challenges. So it’s going to be really exciting to see what everyone’s favorite part of the game is because I think there is going to be a lot going on and you’ll really have a lot of options which will keep you busy for a long time.

I can’t wait to see how I am a part of this. I know that in the game, I am, like, a mentor. I play myself and act like a mentor to the aspiring designers that are playing the game. So it will be interesting to see how they input the footage that they have, because there wasn’t anything, like, they put me in front of the green screen with the dots all over me. I think they are using existing photo and video, so that will be fun to see how the designers are utilized in the game.

That’s definitely something worth getting a Wii for, seeing yourself in a video game.

CS: Yeah. Out of everything that I thought would happen after the show, being part of a video game was not expected. But what boy didn’t grow up wanting to be in a video game? So I’m so, so, so, happy for this opportunity.

If you missed the link in the interview, you can purchase items from Christopher Straub's collection (as well as check out his gorgeous portfolio) at his website:


Dream Sequins said...

He sounds like such a cool guy! Great interview, Alyssa.