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Mondo Guerra on Mentoring and Tonight's Goodwill EnVogue Fundraiser

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Sorry, it's sold out: Denver’s own Project Runway All-Stars winner Mondo Guerra will host tonight's Goodwill EnVogue, a fashion/show fundraiser that features looks designed by Denver high school students in Goodwill’s Youth Career Development Program as well as styles from Déjà Blue, the Goodwill boutique in Cherry Creek, modeled by local celebrities. For the festivities, Guerra will be joined by Tim Gunn, Project Runway star. Although you have no chance of getting tickets, you may get inspired by some of the stories Guerra recently shared with us.

Last year’s student fashion show winner, Kellehanna E’Shawn, was awarded a fashion internship with Guerra that transitioned to an apprenticeship. As she prepares to apply to fashion school, she's one of more than 17,000  students who are getting help from Goodwill through mock interviews, scholarship and college application preparation, and resume-building through Goodwill’s Youth Career Development Program. The student winner of tonight's  Goodwill EnVogue fashion show will also be eligible for a fashion internship with Guerra. 

“I’m beyond thrilled to take my relationship with Goodwill Industries of Denver to the next level at this incredible event. I have seen Goodwill’s community programs change lives for people in need in our community,” say Guerra. “This cause is close to my heart and I can’t wait to see what the student designers have put together this year.”

Guerra got his start in fashion by transforming thrift-store clothing into his own designs. He graduated from the Denver School of the Arts in 1996, and studied art at the Community College of Denver. He was a runner-up on Lifetime’s Project Runway season eight, and a winner on the debut season of Project Runway All-Stars. Guerra was also a mentor to aspiring designers on Tim Gunn’s fashion competition show, Under the Gunn. In the summer of 2013, Guerra introduced an exclusive collection in collaboration with See Eyewear, inspired by 1960s TV shows and pop culture. He also has his own personal clothing label. 

“When I first started sewing I would find clothes from the Goodwill," he recalls. "I would be attracted to the shapes and take the clothes home and deconstruct the seams, or use it as a pattern." He was nineteen when he started doing this. “It’s amazing to come full circle with Goodwill." This is his fourth year hosting the fundraiser; he'd just gotten off season eight when he started working with Goodwill. "I was excited to because it is in Colorado and their program challenges students," he adds.

Guerra knows how important the mentor relationship can be. “I used to look up to my art teachers and my piano teacher and acting teacher and visual art teacher,” he says, adding that he drew from that experience when he became a mentor. “We took Kellehanna [E’Shawn] on board during the summer for her internship and she was amazing. She did so well. She won the competition when she was a sophomore in high school, so she beat the upperclassmen in the competition. Her background is in visual arts so she brought that to the table. She’s turned into my protégée,” Guerra gushes. 
For tonight's event, students were required to create a modern look based on a specific time period, storyboarding their ideas and receiving one-on-one critiques. “It’s amazing to see the growth of students over the process and they begin to understand their passion," Guerra says. "They learn to not give up and to try again. Through my mentorship, I’m allowed to see their creative process. I learn more about myself as a designer through seeing their struggles. The students are not afraid to ask questions or to dream big and put themselves out there. It’s like once we get to a certain age we begin to second-guess ourselves, as adults. The kids here have not been contaminated yet.”

For more information on tonight's event — but not tickets! — click here.

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