by Beth Hammarlund
Finally! After months of anticipation, Season 10 of Project Runway featuring our own Minneapolitan Raul Osorio debuts tonight at 8 pm CST. A fantastic designer and an even better friend, Osorio has all of l’étoile (and Minneapolis at large) atwitter. We couldn’t be happier to see him receiving this level of national attention.
When Osorio first captured my heart, it was for his avant garde menswear. Modified coveralls, dropped crotches and unexpected palettes earned the designer immediate attention in the Twin Cities, and he quickly became one of my favorites. His playfulness with proportion and masculinity was something rarely seen in menswear, unless you’re scrolling through fashion week photos on style.com. Hopefully Runway will have one of its infamous menswear challenges this season. Designing and tailoring menswear often sends contestants running for the hills, but it would be an incredible opportunity for Osorio to stand out and show off his versatility.
Osorio has created plenty of womenswear as well, perhaps most notably his 2010 and 2011 collections for Voltage: Fashion Amplified, 2010′s Sceneasota, and 2010′s Pale Rider, a runway show with PR alum Danielle Everine. Thanks to these high-profile shows, Osorio became known for his love of lace. Still, his designs were far from ladylike. One of my personal favorites was a black lace jumpsuit, typically meant to be worn under a mini-dress, as it leaves practically nothing to the imagination. (Though I know several Twin Cities fashion plates who would be brave enough to wear it with nothing but a bra and boyshorts.) Even his less revealing lace cocktail dresses manage to balance girlishness with toughness.
In addition to his lace fetish, Osorio is known for his women’s high-waisted pants and shorts. Often detailed with a bow at the waist or sailor-style buttoned fronts, the pieces highlight the natural waist and hips, creating the coveted hourglass shape that so many admire. Even his second-skin trousers are surprisingly flattering.
In Pale Rider, Osorio showed a few of my favorite pieces to date, including this little black dress that I’m still itching to own. (Maybe I can call in a favor from him this summer.) Exaggerated shoulders and a high neck with a keyhole opening transformed what could have been a basic dress into something sharp and eye-catching. It proved to me that Osorio could be simultaneously edgy and subtle.
Osorio’s talent and range are already well-established locally. He’s been featured in practically every major publication in the state and was named as one of City Pages 100 Creatives in 2011. But Runway will bring his talent to the national public. What remains to be seen is what kind of effect that will have on his career. Though Project Runway began as a high-end reality show (it’s content and tone have suffered since its move from Bravo to Lifetime), it’s still a reality show. Even undisputed talents like season four winner Christian Siriano struggle to be taken seriously in an industry that pounces on any perceived weaknesses.
And due to creative editing and skewed challenges, there are plenty of talented contestants who never truly have the chance to shine on the show. Danielle Everine, a personal favorite, was never given the opportunity to truly share what she’s capable of on a show that was more interested in drumming up imagined conflicts. Seeing her sent home before the world could appreciate her skill, vision, and warm personality is the greatest frustration that I’ve ever had with the show.
That said, many Runway contestants have profited from the exposure and carved out successful careers in fashion, even if they’re not the next Raf Simons. Local boys Ra’mon-Lawrence Coleman have both benefited from show, Coleman stepping in at Kohl’s and Straub managing his own line and collaborating with national retailers.
Tonight, l’étoile will be hosting a viewing party at moto-i, with a cocktail hour at 7 pm immediately followed by a screening of the premiere. Osorio will be joining us straight off the plane from New York, as well as Runway alums Everine, Straub, and Katy Gerdes. l’étoile fave DJ Bach will be spinning tunes, and between the drink specials and the house-made sake, it’s sure to be an exuberant crowd.