Who Is Hester Sunshine? New Details On The 'Project Runway' Contestant

Photo: bravo
Who Is Hester Sunshine? New Details On The 'Project Runway' Contestant

Project Runway has been on the air for 17 seasons now, and this season, we’re getting all-new judges (Karlie Kloss, Brandon Maxwell, Elaine Welteroth, and Nina Garcia will be returning), as well as a new mentor for the contestants, Christian Siriano. Though Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum have departed the show, its season premiere on March 14th has shown that this season features an incredibly talented collection of designers.

Three contestants have been eliminated since the premiere, leaving 13 designers hoping to win the $250,000 prize, and a mentorship with the Council of Fashion Designers of America. And though these designers put out creative and amazing works of art, their backstories show where they all began and how they developed their own niche style.

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Who is Hester Sunshine? Here are six things to know about the contemporary avant-garde designer and her journey to get to Project Runway.

1. She’s been designing her whole life.

Sunshine began dressing herself at a young age and taught herself how to sew using children’s safety needles. What started as sewing clothes for her dresses evolved into making designs for her friends, and eventually, she sold clothing to friends and moved to a real sewing machine. Her grandfather was also a furrier and her grandmother worked in the textile industry.

2. She attended college.

Though she went to Parsons School of Design, she was kicked out during her junior year. She then finished her degree abroad at Central Saint Martins in London, and completed her major at Eugene Lang. She currently has multiple degrees in fashion design, history, and theory.

3. Her style and influence is unique.

She says she is influenced by current trends, past trends, art history, and describes her creations as “colorful clown couture with a vintage punk rock edge.”

“I don’t know where my ideas come from. I’m inspired by history and all things around me. So many things inspire me and that’s what drives my creativity,” she said. And because she lives in New Mexico, she also draws inspiration from her surroundings:

“Hiking and snowboarding... That’s inspiration for me. I find Albuquerque very inspirational. I love Central Avenue because it has this 50s vibe. The neon signs are an example of this time capsule. All over the city, you can find a different style and then the backdrop of the mountains is gorgeous. With both, you get this phenomenal history that means so much.”

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4. She recently launched her own line.

She initially spent her early career working in New York, designing high fashion, ready-to-wear apparel and accessories, working for Betsey Johnson, Kate Spade, Coach, Hot Topic, Spencer Gifts, Nordstrom, and Walmart. But her line, Sunshine by Hester, “features everything from bunny ears to berets with sassy sayings.”

5. She identifies as queer and Jewish.

When her family left New York City and moved to Santa Fe, she found a “queer Reform Jewish community that fit my identity and values.” According to her, both of her parents taught her that materialism in Hanukkah cannot compare to the spiritual meanings. “I love the way that Judaism can be taken so many different ways,” she revealed.

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6. She’s had quite the ride to get to Project Runway.

The designer has wanted to be on the show since it came out, but “it took me a really long time where I felt good enough and that I could handle the emotional stress. I’m just excited to see where everything goes and to test out some theories. I want to show that fashion can be more than this all-black dressing and can be taken as something more fun.”

She also previously applied for Project Runway when it was airing on Lifetime: “I got pretty far in that process. Then my dad got sick, and I moved back to Santa Fe and I’ve been here ever since.”

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Samantha Maffucci is an editor for YourTango who focuses on writing trending news and entertainment pieces. In her free time, you can find her obsessing about cats, wine, and all things Vanderpump Rules.