Local Fashion Designer to be Featured on Project Runway

Local Fashion Designer to be Featured on Project Runway

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Read on as we chat with Tessa Clark, a Cincinnati-based designer competing for a $250,000 grand prize on the next season of Project Runway.

Photos by Brooke Shanesy

DAAP graduate, entrepreneur, boutique owner and fashion designer Tessa Clark, can now add a new title to her resume: reality television contestant. 

As a contestant on Project Runway Season 17, Clark will be competing against 15 other designers for a $250,000 grand prize. “I have watched Project Runway for years,” Clark says. “After I applied, I binge-watched the show and came to terms with what would happen if I got in or not. It is still so surreal the fact that I will be able to watch myself on television.”

Clark’s passion for fashion first sparked in early childhood. My upbringing wasn’t the norm, so it provided me with a lifetime of inspiration to pull from, I often think back to where I grew up and describe it as magical,” she explained in a previous Cincy Chic interview about her eco-friendly clothing line, Grind and Glaze. “Every day, I lived in my own universe and playground.”

Since then, she fostered her childhood-like wonder and applied it to her career. “I have learned that fashion is not just a ‘frilly’ career; it has real opportunity within a large industry,” Clark says, now the owner of Idlewild Woman, an OTR-based boutique, continuing to grow her own clothing line, Grind and Glaze, and serving as a proud member of Sew Valley.

Tessa Clark

While each day holds a different adventure, especially since Project Runway, Clark says it’s important for her to stay loyal to her roots. “Throughout the whole process of being on the show, I found myself making my strongest work when I remained true to myself as a designer. I pulled roots of inspiration out of everything and anything, and I am finding myself doing that now in my day-to-day life. The show really reinforced what my own personal morals and values are as a designer for me.” 

One value in particular that is extremely important to Clark is the power of sustainability and eco-friendliness within garments. One of my passions is to educate consumers –that’s everyone– about this topic,” she says. “The textile industry is the second largest pollutant in the world, after oil. That is largely due to the fast fashion industry. Most consumers are not educated on the destruction that the fast fashion industry has on earth.”

Project Runway is known for bringing talented designers from all different backgrounds together to compete on one platform“Competing on the show was a blast because getting to know the other 16 designers was so amazing,” she says. “They were all from different walks of life and each held such a diverse background. Designing alongside them while we filmed in Brooklyn was a dream come true.”

The cameras may have stopped rolling, but that hasn’t stopped Clark from diving deeper into the world of fashion. “In the future, I see myself eventually wholesaling my garments in places other than IdleWild Woman,” she explains. “I would love to take my garments to market and eventually have a showroom in NYC, maybe even spot my garments at fashion week. I want to represent Cincinnati well and bring national light to our fashion-forward cityAs far as sustainability in fashion, I strive to make it a standard, not just a trend.” 

You can watch Tessa compete during the television premiere of Project Runway Season 17 on March 14th at 8pm EST on Bravo.

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