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Project Runway Alums Spill the Tea at the TCFStyle Expo Blogger Brunch

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Like many of you, I am a big fan of fashion design reality show Project Runway. The garments, the design, the drama! At this year’s TCFStyle Expo, three Project Runway alums joined us at the Blogger Brunch. The ladies shared their experiences in fashion and on the show.

Season 14 winner Ashley Nell Tipton, season 16 model competition winner Liris Crosse and season 16 finalist Kenya Freeman are Project Runway trailblazers. Not only were Ashley and Kenya the first actual plus size designers on the show, Ashley was the first plus size winner in Project Runway history.

Dubbed the “Naomi Campbell of Fashion,” Liris and her fierce walk went on to win the model competition.

All three women experienced the highs and lows of reality TV and shared them exclusively with a select group of bloggers at the TCFStyle Expo Blogger Brunch.

Project Runway Alums Spill the Tea

TCFStyle Expo Project Runway Blogger Brunch

The Glare of the Lights and Cameras

Both Kenya and Ashley shared that the cameras were always present, “cameras were everywhere and they want to catch [every] conversation,” Kenya shared.

Both designers also shared that the time restrictions on the show are very real, “the times on the show are REAL; you really only get that 24-hours,” Ashley said, “I would ask for just 15 more minutes and they would tell me NO! They were taking it very seriously.”

Designing for Plus Size Bodies on Project Runway

One point all three ladies agreed on was that designers, whether on Project Runway or not, should be able to design for all bodies. “Why did the designers choke when it came to the plus size bodies?”

Kenya questioned, “if you are a designer, you should be able to design for a curvy body as well.” 

Ashley and Liris both chimed in with similar points, “If you’re committed to your craft, make sure you explore and learn your craft.” Liris further elaborated on how makeup artists and hair stylists in the industry have similar issues when dealing with ethnic models. 

Navigating Life Post-Project Runway

While Ashley was grateful for her historic win, she was unprepared for life post-Project Runway, “the show did not prepare me for what would happen [after my win].”

While she expressed gratitude for her overall Project Runway experience, Ashley felt like she was alone, “I felt isolated and alone through the entire process.”

Atlanta-native Kenya was very transparent about what awaited her when she arrived back home to design her final collection, “I arrived back at the airport broke, [I had] no money and no way to fulfill the many custom clothing orders I received while on Project Runway.”

Liris shared that as a model, having to stand on the plexiglass stage for hours while the garment was being judged, caused it’s own damage, “my feet have never been the same [after Project Runway]…I have to regularly see a reflexologist and a chiropractor now.”

Despite the trials and tribulations and the long days each of the women experienced, they were all equally grateful for their time on Project Runway. 

Ashley, who applied on a whim after the passing of her grandmother and best friend, shared, “my life changed because of Project Runway, I’m glad I did it.” 

Did you tune in to Ashley’s iconic season or Kenya and Liris’ amazing season?

Have you been tuning into the TCFStyle Expo via the TCF social media channels or here on the site? Let us know in the comments!

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Written by Jess Sims

My name is Jess (hey girl hey!) I am a plus fashion, beauty, travel and lifestyle blogger doing this for the people who love muted tones in glam styles that they can take from the boardroom to happy hour and beyond.

I’m originally from California, but have lived all over - England, New York, North Dakota, DC. I work full time in corporate America and love using fashion to express myself.

In addition to contributing at TCF, I blog over at A Neutral Life.

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  1. I love Project Runway but was always hugely disappointed with the plus size challenges and results. Hope that Ashley and Kenya continue to get the opportunity to bring their talents to more plus size fashion designs. From everyday basics to work wear to swim , we need more figure friendly fabrics and silhouettes. Loving Ashley’s new look! Can’t wait to see what the next chapter brings for all. Thanks Marie for the update.

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