Project Runway's Helen Castillo is Hungry For a Comeback
Thirty-year-old designer Helen Castillo made a huge impact on Season 12 of Project Runway with her innovative fashions crafted with beautiful fabrics. She embraced every challenge with open arms, especially the ones that made her channel her creativity (a mosaic-like parachute dress that she made on episode one was a standout). Although Castillo came in fifth place, she decided to return for Season 4 of All Stars. She placed higher than her original season (third place) but still wasn’t satisfied. Now, Castillo is back once again to push the envelope as a contestant on Season 6 of All Stars. This time, she says she has a stronger sense of her design aesthetic than ever before--and is ready to take on anything the judges throw at her. In our interview below, we discuss the lessons she’s learned in the fashion industry, her dream design collaboration, and the challenges that come with being an All Star the second time around.
How do you think your fashion has evolved since Project Runway Season 12?
Following Season 12, I decided to pursue my brand. After having been on my first season of the show, there was a lot of popularity surrounding my pieces. Some new clients included celebrities like Madonna and Mary Lambert. I did a lot of freelance work as an on-set tailor for music videos and with fashion designers such as Vera Wang, Vivienne Westwood, and Zac Posen. It takes major dedication to start your own brand but persistence and dedication have helped me grow toward success.
What’s the biggest lesson that you’ve learned while paving your way to success?
The biggest lesson I learned is that being a part of the fashion industry is very competitive. There are a lot of politics, and it’s all about who you know, how talented you are, and where you came from.
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
My design aesthetic is based on strength, maintaining classicism, and a refined attitude. I draw a lot of inspiration from couture techniques and Elizabethan costume.
What made you return to All Stars?
After doing Season 12 of Project Runway, Lifetime Network asked me to return for All Stars. I thought it would be great exposure and would help me gain more followers and popularity in my brand.
What’s the biggest challenge you faced when competing on All Stars?
The biggest challenge I faced and I’m still currently facing on All Stars is that everyone is very competitive. There’s a lot of dishonesty among the other designers. You always have to look out for yourself while being conscious of the environment and vibe in the workroom. That way, you don’t lose focus on creating a winning garment.
What’s your favorite part about designing clothes?
My favorite part about designing clothes is that there are no rules. I design whatever I want and I answer to no one but myself. Having a second opinion that you genuinely trust and doesn’t make you feel like you’re compromising your creativity is hard to come by in this industry.
Is there a designer that you dream of working with in the future?
If I could work for any designer, it would be Cristobal Balenciaga. He passed away though, so I would need a time machine to work for my dream designer!
What are your future plans?
Helen: To continue expanding the brand. I would also like to travel more and try my best to get my brand in stores all over the world.
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