PROJECT RUNWAY JUNIOR—Behind The "Seams" With The Latest Cast-Off Contestant

The new season of Project Runway: Junior is all about showcasing the talents of up-and-coming designers in a fashionable competition. The catch? All the talented designers are ages 13-17!

CollegeFashionista has been given exclusive access to all things Project Runway: Junior. From interviews with the judges to getting to know the designers, check back each week as we bring you exclusive content from Project Runway: Junior.

On last week’s episode, 17-year-old Ysabel Hilado was eliminated in the “Unconventional Car Wash” challenge. Even though her time on the show was brief, the young designer sure learned a lot. Read on to learn more about Ysabel, her experience and what we can expect from her in the future!


CollegeFashionista: When did you first know you wanted to be a designer?

Ysabel Hilando: In middle school, I really wanted to begin working on my future. I’ve always loved fashion growing up, so I thought I would give designing a shot. In 8th grade, I started a online clothing company called Along The Lines Pocket Tees. It went on until about sophomore year of high school because I got sick of making the same thing over and over. I wanted to expand my knowledge of designing because at that time, when someone would ask me what I can make, I didn’t just want to say “pocket tees.” From that point on, I taught myself everything I know about sewing and designing.

CF: What inspires your work?

YH: I’m in love with street style and runway shows. Whenever a fashion week is happening, I’m always looking forward to seeing what people are wearing on the streets. In particular, I’m also inspired by the fashion bloggers. Many bloggers have that “on-the-go” edgy yet minimalistic style, and that’s what I try to go for. Versatility is also key to when I design, because I love pieces that you can mix and match for different outfits and occasions.


CF: Describe your design aesthetic in three words.

YH: Monochrome. Simple. Chic.

CF: How do you think your age has helped you as a designer?

YH: Being only 17 and now a current senior in high school, it has motivated me to inspire others and myself. I want people to look at me and say, “Wow, she’s doing all that at 17?” Not a lot of teenagers nowadays have the skill of sewing and designing, so it’s a pretty special talent to have. I want teenagers to know that your passion will always take you somewhere, but you have to be willing to work hard for it as well. Success doesn’t come easy.


CF: What was your favorite part of being on Project Runway: Junior?

YH: Besides breathing the same air as Tim Gunn, I enjoyed every moment being with the other 11 designers. It’s not everyday that I’m around people who share the same passion as me, and to get the opportunity to do so AND to be on one of my favorite TV shows growing up is a blessing. Each of the designers are SO inspiring and unique, and the crazy part is that we all love each other and get along as if we all grew up together. There’s a special bond between all of us, and hopefully it will never go away.

CF: Who is your favorite judge? Why?

YH: My favorite judge would have to be Aya Kanai. Aya is just like Wonder Woman, I don’t know how she does it! She’s absolutely STUNNING, has impeccable style and her critiques are real and to the point. To be honest, she looked really scary and intimidating but in reality she is so sweet and a role model. I just read an article about her the other day, and I have so much respect for her. She has really worked her way up to where she is now, and I love people like that. She’s one of those examples where hard work pays off.

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CF: What did you learn through your experience on Project Runway: Junior?

YH: I’ve learned to not second-guess myself as a designer. There were points where I was like, “I don’t know if I can do this,” because it’s quite impossible to not get intimidated and overwhelmed by the amount of talent in the room. However, I always snap out of it because I told myself that win or not, this was an experience of a lifetime and I had to take advantage of it every second.

CF: What can we expect from you in the future? What’s next?

YH: I’m in the process of applying to various colleges with a major in fashion design, of course! The biggest goal right now is to get out of high school and graduate. Right now, I feel like I also need to focus more on who I am as a designer as well, because I feel like I need to tweak and fine-tune my street chic aesthetic. One day, I hope to showcase a collection at LA or New York Fashion Week. I know that goal is very reachable.

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Be sure to catch all the fashion and young designers all season long on Project Runway: Junior, airing Thursdays on Lifetime at 9 pm EST/8 pm CST.

Photo credit: Press photos—Barbara Nitke, Instagram photos via Ysabel Hilando’s Instagram account