Seattle Runway


Makaha-local Matt Bruening documents his journey to Seattle to audition for the acclaimed hit series, “Project Runway.”

I’ve never really seen myself as a sought out TV personality, let alone a character on any reality TV series. However, my views have changed. I was contacted by a representative for the critically acclaimed, Emmy winning series, Project Runway, to apply for the show. At first I had mixed feelings, thinking, Are you serious? I mean, come on, I may be outgoing, a little spontaneous, obnoxious, blunt, and careless at times, but it all happens when a camera’s not rolling (at least I hope it’s not). For me it’s different when a video camera is inches away from your face, following you every centimeter around. I thought, I’m not ready for this.

This couldn’t have happened at a more perfect time. I’m slammed for work. Brainstorming new ideas for my line and my other Acid Dolls line, as well as figuring out the next step to take towards my ever-so-prolonged career. I had NO time whatsoever to fill out a 22-page essay, film a three to five minute video, edit a three to five minute video, retake lookbook-like photos of up to ten designs of my garments and ensembles, and have it all ready within four days. So I contacted them, thanking them for the opportunity, but also informed them it would’ve been near impossible to have this all ready and shipped to them within the desired time frame.

I get an email back saying they’ve worked on getting another due date for me: Monday, April 26. At this time, I’ve really only had roughly nine pages filled of the never-ending application, hadn’t scheduled reshoots for the garments, and had no access to any camera to put together a video. I then thought to myself, Either they’re desperate for people to show up to these auditions, or they really believe in me and want to see my potential. I kinda meshed both ideas and said screw it and continued on with the application process.

After nearly facing a big ‘epic fail’ with my application having disappearing ink ten pages in, obtaining photos, and half killing myself to even open one eye to see myself on video, the envelope is sent with all requirements. Overnight delivery. FedEx. $25. They receive it Tuesday morning. A couple hours afterwards I receive a call, 1:00 p.m., Hawaii time. “Congratualtions! You’ve qualified amongst thousands as a semi-finalist for the project runway initial interivew!” Thoughts? Stoked.

Off to Seattle. Plane ticket mishaps. Garment presentation selection horrors. Finally. I was already flying over millions of gallons of water to Washington. Prepared to say the least – for the weather anyway. From mid-80 degree weather to nearly 40-degree windchill in Seattle, I had my wool coat and proper Seattle attire. I get picked up by my friend Jake Miyasato and head for his pad for the night at midnight. Cold as hell in Lynnwood.

The day after, we get to the hotel, which, surprisingly, was right around the corner of where the audition took place. Garments in hand, brand new steamer (from Target, that I left behind), I get into the waiting room and I see fellow, former classmate, Hawaii designer, Andy South. He has an interview an hour before me. We help each other prep for the presentations while other designers in the room, literally like five, look and stare at us, thinking, Wow, they’re HELPING each other? Aloha spirit, I guess.

So he goes in and gets great reviews. He also mentions that the guest judges were Tim Gunn and current project runway winner, Seth Aaron. Nervous? Never! Finally, after two more designers that went in after Andy, it was my turn. One of the producers prepped me with the mic and set my garments on the rack. Within ten minutes I was rolling my clothes in the room, about ten feet away from Tim Gunn, Seth Aaron, and guest stylist, Zoe.

Tim asks, “What’s that in your hands?”

“My Port,” I tell him.

“Can we see it?” he says, and I’m like, “Of course!” He looks at it nodding as he flips through the photos, pointing occasionally, but at the same time I can’t make out if it was positive or negative remarks, just yet. So finally they direct their attention to me, firing question after question. I barely finish the first when the following question or comment is already behind my last few words. Overall, it was a mixed bag. They agreed on some things and debated on a few things (one thought “genius,” while the other was left underwhelmed).

After nearly ten minutes of back and forth comments and replies, Tim states, “We’re unsure of your fate at the moment. However, Matt, you’ll be called later, and if so, if it happens that you’re not a candidate for this season, we definitely want to see you next year.” That was already the icing on the cake. I just received feedback and constructive criticism from industry professionals.

By the end of the night I was informed that I wasn’t selected for a final interview, which would’ve taken place the day after. I was stoked and satisfied nonetheless with their decision. I just met some awesome people, showed my work to Tim Gunn, got feedback from him, and got to spend that Monday playing tourist around town. Seattle and this audition was definitely an experience. I’m ready for them next year; gun’s locked and loaded.

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