Hester Sunshine’s goal of being on “Project Runway” is coming true.
The 34-year-old Santa Fe-based designer will appear on the 17th season of the long-running competition series.
“I’ve actually wanted to be on the show forever,” Sunshine said. “I feel like I’ve been training for it and I felt I was capable of competing at this moment. Making the show feels very awesome and exciting. I feel like my career in the fashion industry has been like boot camp for the show.”
Sunshine will join 15 other competitors in the new season, which airs at 6 p.m. Thursday on Bravo.
It’s been a very long two-year process for Sunshine to get on the show.
She originally applied for the competition when it was on Lifetime, before the show was bought and moved to Bravo.
“I got pretty far in that process,” she said. “Then my dad got sick, and I moved back to Santa Fe and I’ve been here ever since.”
For the new season, there are a few changes. Gone are longtime host Heidi Klum and mentor Tim Gunn. Supermodel and entrepreneur Karlie Kloss will host, and “Project Runway” alum and fashion designer Christian Siriano is the season’s mentor. Nina Garcia, Brandon Maxwell and Elaine Welteroth are the season’s judges.
Sunshine’s inspiration comes from all facets of life.
Over the course of her career, she’s built up the confidence to be on a higher level.
Sunshine attended Parsons School of Design in New York City with a double major through Eugene Lang College.
Unfortunately, she was kicked out of Parsons during her junior year and finished her degree abroad at Central Saint Martins in London before returning to complete her major at Eugene Lang. She proudly holds degrees in fashion design, history and theory.
Sunshine describes her fashions as colorful clown couture with a vintage punk rock edge, and she is influenced by current and past trends, as well as art history.
“I don’t know where my ideas come from,” she said. “I’m inspired by history and all things around me. So many things inspire me and that’s what drives my creativity.”
Living in Santa Fe, she takes a lot of inspiration from her surroundings in northern New Mexico.
“Hiking and snowboarding,” she said. “That’s inspiration for me. I find Albuquerque very inspirational. I love Central Avenue because it has this ’50s vibe. The neon signs are an example of this time capsule. All over the city, you can find a different style and then the backdrop of the mountains is gorgeous. With both, you get this phenomenal history that means so much.”
Sunshine is proud to represent New Mexico and falls in line with a trio of New Mexicans who competed on the TV series.
On the seventh season, Santa Fe resident May Luz placed seventh. Then Alamogordo native Rafael Cox placed 16th on season 9. Taos’ Patricia Michaels was runner-up on the 11th season and appeared on “Project Runway All Stars Season 4.”
“I studied abroad and lived in New York City for 14 years before coming to Santa Fe,” Sunshine said. “It’s a pretty intense transition, but I enjoy being close to my family and being outdoors. Being on the show is very surreal and I’m glad to be representing New Mexico on this show.”
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