Mondo Guerra, fashion reality-show star and winner of the 2012 Project Runway All Stars, will host a series of viewing parties to celebrate his return to television as a fashion mentor on Lifetime's new reality competition, Under the Gunn. Like that series, the parties will begin on January 16, when Guerra will be at Beauty Bar Denver to welcome other celebrity guests, hand out prizes and host activities for fashion fans. Mondo took a break from his mentoring duties to talk to us about his role on Gunn's new show, as well as other fashionable things.
Westword: Congratulations on your new job as fashion mentor. What does it mean for you to reach "mentor" status?
Mondo: For me, I didn't have an expectation going into the show. I've always been asked what I would be doing if I wasn't a fashion designer. My art teacher and music teachers were my mentors. Especially the encouragement from them, what I felt from them -- not necessarily what I learned -- and the love and respect I have for them and my personal experience is what I put into my mentoring. I wanted to be the person young designers could look up to be and be encouraged by.
You have some wonderful collaborations: Merck and the IDesign campaign, Subaru and Dining out for Life. What other collaborations can we look forward to seeing from you?
I'm releasing a new collection of eyewear in the fall, and I have collaboration with a footwear company that should be very exciting, which should launch in the fall as well. We will be having actual fashions on my label which can be found at MondoGuerro.com. Right now we have a lot of kitschy things, but 2014 is my turn to be more selective in my collaboration and to be more selfish in what I want to do as a fashion designer. I won't stop doing the advocacy work or collaborations, but I really want to focus on my efforts. We are trying to select all of our materials locally in Denver. It has proven to be more difficult because we don't have the resources like L.A. and New York -- but we have the talent.
Give us your thoughts on the fashion community in Denver: What are we doing right, what needs work?
We do have the talent, and we need to work together and to share our resources and move forward. I think it is really easy to focus on what we are doing wrong. What we are doing right: There is good communication, but we need to follow through. There could be more effort to follow through on what we are trying to accomplish.
Who are some of your favorite designers in Denver?
Everyone has their own point of view. Personally, there are designers that I am inspired by who are very strong and very talented...I don't want to get into naming names.
Under the Gunn Thursdays -- why is this one of the best ways to watch the new show?
This will be the third go-round at the Beauty Bar. We started when I was on Project Runway and then Project Runway All-Stars season I, there was a demand for the party. There were people who came down to the Beauty Bar to view the show who were fans of me and the show. Once you go, you are going to want to go week after week; you watch the show and make new friends, there are contests and door prizes. We try to make it fun. People who do go get a little of the behind-the-scenes, and take home a prize or two if they are lucky!
What's the one piece of advice that is important for all aspiring designers to know?
They have to be able to be open to constructive criticism, critiques. Know who you are as a person and understand how that translates into your work as a creative individual.
Is there any else you would like to share with us?
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We have the Goodwill event that is happening on February 6. Tim Gunn will be here and it's a big one! We have been doing it for a few years, but we have never had the dean of fashion, so this is going to be a good one!