It should come to no surprise to anyone in the fashion industry that Kevin Christiana has realized his dreams as a fashion designer. The Project Runway: Season Four contestant has been sewing and designing clothing since he was very young. His creative talent derives from his Sicilian family, many of whom are tailors and seamstresses. Before he earned the attention of Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn as an aspiring member in the fashion design competition, Christiana’s first label had been sold to approximately 200 boutiques nationwide. His latest collection, MYNT 1792, a denim line for men and women, will soon launch and be available in retailers everywhere for Fall. For the “girlfriend” look, the New Jersey native designed menswear pieces, such as jackets made of Italian fine wool, and great-fitting jeans with rocker chic details, and for the guys, he chose super soft fabrics for vintage T-shirts and comfortable jeans.
Recently, I had the pleasure to chat with the very busy designer about his inspirations and how he harmonizes his artistic talents with the habits of consumers today. Read on for our interview:
Q: Who or what inspired you to become a fashion designer?
A: Susana Monaco, who is a fellow designer and cousin, my Uncle Mario, who owns a large manufacturing facility and my Aunt Ida Lasusa who taught me how to sew, also known as the family’s master seamstress. I guess you could say It’s in the jeans!
Q: How did being on the show Project Runway change your life? Professionally and personally. Are you recognized more as an accomplished designer?
A: Project Runway enhanced my life in so many ways. The press and attention I receive is amazing! To be recognized after 12 years of hard work, is beyond rewarding. As a designer, there is an evolution that happens with every designer, will one survive and can it be repeated? For me? Project Runway guided me into a survival designer.
Q: How has the state of the economy affected your choices and decisions as a designer? And, how have you adapted to the changes in consumers’ spending?
A: As a company, MYNT 1792, we created a high-end product at an affordable price-point. We do intense research when picking fabrics, materials and manufacturing costs; always thinking about the consumer.
Q: Who is your idol?
My idol is, really, my environment. I am so inspired by architecture, people, places, food…basically anything that brings out my creativity.
Q: How do you overcome creativity blocks? And, how do you reward yourself for your accomplishments?
A: Sometimes, I just have to step out of the everyday and go someplace that is inspiring. This allows me to recharge and keep designing.
Q: I am really looking forward to seeing your denim line in the Fall. What was your inspiration board like for the MYNT 1792 collection?
My partners and I wanted to create an American lifestyle brand. MYNT 1792, a men’s and women’s line, is based on the U.S. Money Mint that was established in Philadelphia in 1792. We wanted to make it about the American people. The inspiration came from a combination of what we all like; a little bit of rock-n-roll, sports and creating comfort while looking stylish. MYNT 1792’s tag line is: “E PLURIBUS UNUM” which means “out of many, one” and that’s our goal for each client; make everyone feel like an individual.
Q: What advice do you have to aspiring fashion designers today?
Always be prepared! Be ready for failure, success, opinions and road blocks. No matter what the neigh sayers say, stay connected and true to every vision and learn patience! Hard work and persistence make a great designer.