Snohomish native has designs on success on ‘Project Runway’

SNOHOMISH — Joshua Christensen is ready to make the supermodels work.

The 29-year-old Snohomish native who once delivered The Herald will battle for a $100,000 prize and the opportunity to start his own fashion line on “Project Runway.”

The Lifetime Television show’s ninth season premiere is scheduled to air at 9 tonight.

“It was a pretty crazy little adventure,” Christensen said during a phone interview from New York on Wednesday. “It was all kind of magical and strange at the same time.”

The second oldest of six kids, Christensen graduated from Snohomish High School in 2000, went on a two-year mission with his church and took a banking job after studying at Brigham Young University.

Still, he wanted a way to express his creative side. A couple of years ago, he moved to Los Angeles and went to the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. That’s where he learned to sketch, cut, tailor and drape.

He studied designers such as Tom Ford and Georgio Armani, and created a design company, Alastaire Grey.

Christensen excelled at his course work, was recognized for his cutting-edge creations and was accepted to an advanced program.

Earlier this year a friend suggested he try out for “Project Runway,” a reality show that is to fashion design what “American Idol” is to show business.

Much to his delight and surprise, he made it on the show and flew to New York in June to start filming.

Hosted by supermodel Heidi Klum along with other fashion mavens, contestants are pitted against each other to create couture under pressure.

Each week one designer is eliminated after being put through his or her paces to design clothes, usually with an oddball theme.

Christensen wasn’t allowed to reveal anything that happens on this season’s show.

“Nope,” he said when asked.

In the past, designers had to use food, recycled material and stuff found in an apartment as part of their clothing line.

This season promises “inventive challenges, unexpected eliminations and other surprises along the way,” according to a press release.

The cast lives in a New York apartment, where their designs and personal lives are the focus of cameras that always are on.

“Being there in that moment, it is every emotion all at once,” Christensen said. “I definitely was stressed, happy, sad and everything in between.”

Christensen, who designs clothes primarily for men, describes his work as a mixture of old-world traditions infused with contemporary, creative thinking.

“I’m really doing something that is new and different and modern, appropriate for the time,” he said.

Although his recent travels have taken him to New York, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, Christensen thinks back on the warmth and love of the Snohomish community.

“My mom and dad are the greatest people ever,” Christensen said. “My mother taught me everything I know to be a successful person.”

She was a skilled seamstress and made clothes for her children, he said. His mother was diagnosed with cancer when he was 18 and died a few years later.

“I think about her all the time when I make stuff,” he said.

With his debut tonight on national television, Christensen said he’s proud of what he’s accomplished.

“I’m so happy about how everything happened,” he said. “I’m happy that I never had to compromise myself.”

Although it was thrilling to meet Hollywood celebrities and rub shoulders with fashion’s A-list, at the end of the day Christensen wants viewers to know that he’s a regular guy.

“I want to be a real person. I want to be a designer. I want to be a friend,” he said.

He won’t mind if fans stop and ask for an autograph or photo.

“I’m excited for people to be excited.”

Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3447; jholtz@heraldnet.com.

Tune in

Project Runway is scheduled to air at 9 tonight on Lifetime

Fans can vote to support Joshua Christensen by Tweeting “#PR9joshuac.”

More information at: www.mylifetime.com/shows/project-runway

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