Project Runway’s Elisa: Daughter of Sculptor Luis Jimenez

I grew up in New Mexico and attended UNM as an undergrad, so I’ve had a long-standing awareness of the artist Luis Jimenez. In college, I would pass by Jimenez’s “Fiesta Dancers” sculpture daily and the piece always looked like a man and a drag queen dancing to me. I was never really a fan.

Jimenez’s life and art took a morbid turn in 2006, when his giant “Mustang” sculpture fell on him and killed him in his New Mexico studio. This particular sculpture had been commissioned for the Denver International Airport back when it first opened, and it was finally installed there yesterday, after a fourteen-year delay. I may not be an admirer of his work, but his story certainly was interesting. You can read more about that here.

What does that have to do with fashion and The Cat’s Pajamas, you ask? Well, the story gets weirder. It turns out that Jimenez’s daughter is Elisa from the most recent season of Project Runway. Elisa was one of my favorite contestants on this season’s show, and I was sad when she was eliminated on Episode 6: Eye Candy. In that episode, Elisa revealed the sad story of being hit by a car, breaking her neck, being in a coma and almost dying.

But the true tragedy of Elisa’s life was never brought to light on the show, and that’s a damn shame because nothing is crazier than the story of her father’s death. The fact that her dad was killed by his own art, coupled with her tragic car accident, sure goes a long way toward explaining her lovable nuttiness. I was never truly enamored with Elisa’s designs, but her personality and crazy antics made for enjoyable watching. Early on, Elisa was shown rubbing her fabric on the grass to infuse it with color and using “spit marks” to measure her designs. I was always excited to see what she would do next. To catch up with Elisa, check out her website.

-Aubrey Shoe

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