Week after week, Hester Sunshine has navigated through challenges on “Project Runway.”
At times, she endured harsh criticism. However, the Santa Fe resident won the most individual challenges this season.
At 7 p.m. today, the TV series will air the episode in which the top four designers compete for the title.
“I’ve actually wanted to be on the show forever,” Sunshine told the Journal. “I feel like I’ve been training for it, and I felt I was capable of competing at this moment. I feel like my career in the fashion industry has been like boot camp for the show.”
The journey to the competition took nearly two years. Sunshine first applied when it was on Lifetime, before the show was bought and moved to Bravo.
As a finalist, Sunshine was given five months to create five looks for the final runway. She was given $10,000 to cover expenses.
For the May 30 episode, “The Art of Fashion,” the challenge for the designers was to create a look for an experiential fashion show.
For the two-day challenge, Sunshine was inspired by the rococo – or late Baroque – style, which is highly ornamented and theatrical.
“Thanks so much guys for your cheers and positive feedback! I’m beyond excited to be in the top 4 and get to make my dream collection,” Sunshine said on Instagram. “This last challenge was really hard for me and while I don’t think it’s bigger and better than anything I’ve ever made I deff am proud of the turnout, the skirt in particular and the fact that I made the top out of literal scraps. So many of my hardships through this competition have come out of the short time we are given at Mood (Fabrics in New York City) and the fact that I am really a print designer.”
Over the course of the season, Sunshine has impressed the judges: supermodel and entrepreneur Karlie Kloss, Nina Garcia, Brandon Maxwell and Elaine Welteroth.
Fashion designer and “Project Runway” alum Christian Siriano is the mentor.
To name the final four, the judges looked back at each designer’s body of work from the season.
Kloss pointed out that Sunshine has great ideas and won more challenges during the season than any other designer.
“She’s kind of different from everything else in the room,” Siriano said in the episode as he judged Sunshine’s designs.
Garcia said that when Sunshine had creative freedom, she pushed herself to design something different.
“Hester knows who her customer is,” Garcia said. “She taps into this new creative that we are seeing, and she would put on a great show.”
Several other New Mexicans have appeared in the long-running series.
During 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 in the 11th season and appeared on “Project Runway All Stars Season 4.”