Rafael's Runway

rafael-cox-fashion-designer-project-runway-fashionadoan exclusive interview with Project Runway's Rafael Cox.

Atlanta-based fashion designer Rafael Cox got his auf wiedersehen way to soon, being the first designer to be sent "to the workroom to clean up his space" on Season 9 of Project Runway.  Rafael Cox kept it together as he bid farewell to his new reality tv friends and hugged Tim Gunn goodbye.

In a revealing interview, Rafael doesn't hold back about Project Runway and rips the seams off of the judges and his experience.
Lets start with the toughest. You were the first designer to leave the show which is never an easy thing. Describe your feelings about that and who should have gone home instead of you?

My feelings on being the first one sent home were just that. You go into a show like this one knowing that each week someone is going to be sent home and it just happened to be me in the first episode. Regardless of when a person is eliminated, being on Project Runway is a win/win situation because there are different ways to look at it. You can say I ranked 16th out of thousands that tried out and to make it on a show like this says a lot about me as a Designer.

I think all of our designs were interesting. I wouldnt nominate anyone esle to go home but I do think that mine showed more of a designer point of view than the others.

rafael-cox-designer-project-runway-atlanta-fashionadoThe judges were very harsh with their comments. Viewers only see a snippet of the critique. Will you elaborate on your runway defense?

To be honest my critique was not as bad as they mad it out to be on the show. (The power of editing.) Nina, Michael and Christina Ricci all had nice things to say about my look but those comments were edited out. My critique was not the worst one out of the three in the bottom. There isn't really a runway defense that you can come up with. The judges will eat you up and spit your right back out. But there was a defensive response of my garment, but once again, it was edited out.

Which designers should we look out for as the season unfolds?rafael-cox-fashion-designer-project-runway-atlanta-nyc-chad-finley-fashionado

I think that you should look out for Victor, Bert and Kimberly.

How has this experience helped you evolve as a designer?

This experience was something that I will never forget and always remember. You get to meet some interesting people during the show and learn so much about their different design aesthetics. It made me appreciate fashion more and fall in love with it all over again because you meet others like you that enjoy doing what you do. It inspires you to be more creative and innovative in your own design aesthetic. It's like being in a AP class and everyone there is clearly smart and adapts to learning differently and solving equations differently than the other.

I evolved so much as a designer and as a person. The feedback from the judges the good and the bad was great insight, as well as what I got from the fellow contestents. I learned to always by myself regardless of the situation and never back down when it comes to defending my work.

What is your personal design aesthetic?

My personal design aesthetic is edgy, architecturally designed and distinct in appeal. I try to create shapes within my garments and I love flat pattern making so I really enjoy layering and making panels on my garments. I like to create garments that look great hanging on a hanger as a free standing fixture and even better on the body.

What inspired you to become a fashion designer?

I always loved clothes and getting dressed and matching different pieces together. I remember watching Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell walk the runways and how amazed I was with the fashion world and how it seemed so magical (I know, I'm such a queen). My interest was always there and I just loved clothes all my life as well.

I remember watching my mother sew and taking small sewing lessons from her when I was younger and just thinking it was so interesting. I took a Home Economics class in high school and we sewed pillows (lets just say that mine were the most "decorative") which sparked my interest again in sewing. After applying to college out-of-state as a History Education major I decided to change my major and transferred to American InterContinental University and began their Fashion Design Program to which I finished in 2006.

rafael-cox-project-runway-designer-chad-finley-fashionadoWhat's in your future?

My future is very bright and I have some really great opportunities that I am looking forward too. Something I learned from doing this show is that a lot of the other designers have not done as much as I have including the experience I have in the industry as well. I have a few stores interested in carrying my line. Also, my own fashion show later this year which I am looking forward to. Stay Tuned!

Some of the Project Runway challenges seem unrealistic. If Michael Kors were a contestant on the show, how do you think he'd do?

LOL. I think Michael would be that whiny designer who is catty and stressed because he isn't going to finish in time. At his stage in design he probably has a team of designers that create his brand where all he does is veto out and/or change things to his liking. So I would say if that design team isn't there with him in the work room then he would be hearing, "auf wiedersehen Michael."

Did you meet Christina Ricci? If so, how was that like (love her).

No you really don't get to interact with the judges at all. She is very sweet and complimented my look in her critique of my design on the runway (which was edited out). She is so cute in person and yes her eyes are really that BIG!

Tell me about the ladies: Heidi Klum and Nina Garcia, what are they like? Who's nicer/meaner?

To be honest, Heidi is the meanest and the one to look out for. She goes for the kill where as Michael and Nina will compliment the good things and butcher your look at the same time. Nina has a strong voice on the show and can be very blunt and harsh but she can be fair in her critique as well. She is actually more personable in person than on TV. They portray her to be a meanie pants but she is kind of hot in person. 

[caption id="attachment_9407" align="aligncenter" width="478" caption="Photos by Chad Finley."]rafael-cox-project-runway-fashion-designer-chad-finley-fashionado[/caption]

Rafael Cox left Project Runway with class and dignity. He was a designer before he went on the show and left with the power to continue to be a force within the industry. I doubt we've seen the last of him.

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