Photo credit: Zach Dilgard
Local fashion designer Valerie Mayen is no stranger to the Project Runway stage. She competed on season eight of the fashion design competition, ultimately finishing seventh of 17 designers. Now, she'll be appearing on season five of Project Runway All Stars, where she will be up against other Project Runway alumni from various seasons.
Mayen, known for her Yellowcake brand, found out last spring that she would be on Project Runway All Stars. "It was kind of a blur," she said. "I saw it as a chance for redemption."
Having been on Project Runway before, Mayen knew what to expect and entered the competition fully prepared. "I took a more controlled, logical approach to designing," she said.
Her strategy was to keep three things in mind while desigining a piece: her customer, her textile, and limiting herself to just two design elements. This method allowed her to design efficiiently within the limited time given for each challenge. "There is a lot going on [during a Project Runway design challenge], and it's a challenge to focus on the task at hand," she said.
On a more personal level, Mayen had to deal with the fact that Cleveland, her home for the past 14 years, is not perceived as a fashion mecca or a bustling metropolis, putting her at a potential disadvantage among her fellow competitors. During her first appearance on Project Runway, Mayen struggled with feeling like she "was not good enough, not memorable enough [among competitors from larger cities]," she said.
Residing in Cleveland does have an influence on her (off-screen) designs, and her location has helped make Yellowcake outerwear some of her most popular products. "Our outerwear is well make, timeless, high-end, practical with lots of pockets and detachable hoods," she said.
The most exciting part of being on the show for Mayen was finishing each challenge and feeling a sense of accomplishment, "seeing what you're capable of and being amazed at what you've done," despite the given constraints, she said.
Season five of Project Runway All Stars airs on Thursdays at 9 p.m. on Lifetime. Viewing parties will be held at the Butcher and the Brewer and Tremont Taphouse (watch our events calendar for details.)
Mayen will be offering ready-to-wear pieces inspired by her Project Runway All Stars creations available for purchase at the viewing parties and online.