Mondo Guerra brings 'Project Runway' inspiration to DIY series

By Nicole Girten   |   Updated March 14, 2019 at 12:02 PM
Mondo Guerra, winner of Season 1 of "Project Runway All Stars," is the host of "Runway Remake." Photo courtesy of Bluprint Mondo Guerra hosts the show "Runway Remake" which premieres Thursday. Photo courtesy of Bluprint Mondo Guerra (L) and Michael Costello attend the GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles in 2011. File Photo by Phil McCarten/UPI


March 14 (UPI) -- Veteran Project Runway contestant Mondo Guerra is hosting a new web series featuring DIY tutorials for fans to create their own interpretation of challenges featured on the show.

Runway Remake on the Bluprint streaming platform will offer step-by-step instructions for creators at all levels of sewing proficiency.

"It's more inspirational than anything," said Guerra, 40, Season 8 runner-up of Project Runway and winner of Season 1 Project Runway All Stars. The series launches Thursday

One episode features Guerra designing for a client for whom he's never designed: his mother.

"You'll see me in the process of designing for her. I'll also say she's the most difficult client I've ever had," he said.

"I don't want to let her down, you know?"

A safe space

Project Runway has been a safe space for Guerra in a world that might have misunderstood him.

"I always felt like the outsider," Guerra said. "When I got on Project Runway, it was the first time I ever felt like the cool kid in the class. And it was just a really wonderful experience, and it just sort of felt like a safe place for me."

One of Guerra's favorite challenges on Project Runway was the "There's a Pattern Here" challenge in Season 8, in which contestants were asked to create a pattern based on a personal life story. Mondo created a now-famous pair of pants that featured plus signs to represent his HIV-positive status.

Guerra revealed the story behind his pants on the runway, a truth he had hidden for a decade. Since the episode aired, Guerra says he has established a stronger bond with his family.

"I've opened up a new relationship with my family, not only my mom and my dad and my sister, but my extended family," he said. Because he was able to have a conversation about HIV/AIDS, "those people in my life have become advocates themselves."

If he had not decided to tell his story, Guerra said, he wouldn't be here today.

"That part of my life was really killing me. Like defeating me in so many negative ways," he said. "I don't feel like I would be existing and living my most happy, healthy life right now."

The designer believes the cure for HIV/AIDS could be around the corner.

On March 5, a study reported that a patient in London went into remission after a cell transplant -- a hopeful sign for many, including Guerra.

"We talk about a cure in 2020, a year away, and I'm a believer in that," Guerra said. "Something's going to happen. It's going to be a reality and I think about my niece and my nephew, who are 3 and 2 years old, and I know that in their generation, HIV/AIDS is going to be a conversation; it's not going to be a disease anymore."

Drag queen designs

Guerra has designed for many prominent drag queens from RuPaul's Drag Race, including Manila Luzon, who was eliminated on All Stars 4 before she could wear Guerra's design down the runway.

"I thought she was going to win," Guerra said.

The runway look is a major factor in judging each drag queen from week to week on Drag Race, and Guerra noted how designers for the competitors aren't recognized on the program.

"I'm curious to know whether [RuPaul] inquires about, you know, the designers that are producing for these queens because there's a lot of really amazing designers," Guerra said. "I wish that designers would get a little more credit."

Guerra said audiences might be interested to see how many people are involved in creating the show.

"It would be interesting to maybe see a spin-off series of them actually being involved in the process," Guerra said.

Latest collection

Guerra is showcasing his latest collection at a show in Palm Springs, Calif., on Tuesday with former Project Runway contestants Michael Costello, Viktor Luna, Seth Aaron Henderson and Anthony Ryan.

Guerra's latest collection is inspired by cowboys and the sci-fi western vibe from Westworld after he fell in love with a print.

"I saw this print when I went shopping in New York at a fabric store and it was this cow print. It with like an orange, with black cow print," Guerra said. "I knew I wanted to do something with it. And so, that was kind of my jumping [off] point. I was very, very excited by the Wild West."

This season, Guerra is all about orange.

"For me, right now the color is orange," Guerra said. "And everything rhinestoned and sparkly."

As for what he's avoiding, Guerra doesn't seem to believe in fashion faux pas.

"If you're doing yourself, like if you're doing you, that's a good thing. There's no right or wrong. Fashion is very subjective," Guerra said. "As long as you're comfortable, feel good about how you're expressing yourself, I think you're doing a very good job."

Runway Remake launches in conjunction with the premiere of Season 17 of Project Runway on Bravo at 8 p.m. Thursday.

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