Who Is Sonia Kasparian? New Details About The 'Project Runway' Contestant

Photo: bravo
Who Is Sonia Kasparian? New Details About The 'Project Runway' Contestan

Project Runway’s 17th season premiered on March 14th, and so far, four contestants have gone home. But since its premiere, we’ve seen all sorts of creations from these designers, showing just how talented and skilled they are.

This season also features new judges — Karlie Kloss, Elaine Welteroth, and Brandon Maxwell — with Nina Garcia returning to the judging panel. The designers also have a new mentor, Christian Siriano, who won season four! Though Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum aren’t on this season, Project Runway has returned to Bravo for the first time since season five.

And the prizes are even bigger this time around. With a $250,000 cash prize, a feature in Elle Magazine, $50,000 to put towards a studio, and a mentorship with the Council of Fashion Designers of America at stake, these contestants will work their butts off to stand out above the rest. It’s a huge deal, but we’ll just have to wait for the finale to see who wins.

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In the meantime, each contestant brings something different to the competition. Featuring designers from all walks of life and all over the world, their backstories are truly unique and explore the individual struggles each has faced.

Who is Sonia Kasparian? Here are five things to know about the bespoke couture designer and how she got her start in the fashion industry.

1. She’s been creating since a young age.

Though she was always an artist, Kasparian used drawing as a way to escape and express herself. While in elementary school, she studied on the weekends at the Chicago Art Institute in a “program for skilled young artists to learn more about various types of art, from drawing to sculpture.” She was interested in architectural design, but eventually decided to pursue a career in fashion design.

2. She attended college.

Kasparian graduated from Otis/Parsons in Los Angeles with a BFA in fashion design. She was awarded Designer of the Year when she graduated, and though she originally planned to work in the corporate world and eventually move back to her first love of fine art, she became an apparel designer.

3. She had a career shift.

Since graduating, she became a professional apparel designer. She’s worked for Nike designing NBA apparel and USA Olympic gear for the men’s and women’s volleyball teams. She worked for Quicksilver, Roxy, and O’Neil as their Director of Global Branding, and created Roxy’s signature board shorts! But nowadays, she’s creating “bespoke couture and bridal pieces,” focusing on one of a kind creations.

“I worked for many years in the apparel business designing for very large companies, and building their brands, while doing and showing/selling my own fine artwork on the side. In approximately 2009, I began designing one-of-a kind garments and accessories and placing them in small local retail stores in my hometown of Portland, Oregon, and was approached by a client to do a bridal commission for her. It went well, and we were both very happy with the collaboration. So I put my toe in the water, and began merging my artwork with my background in fashion, and Urchin bespoke was born,” she revealed on her website.

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4. And she has her own unique style to create one-of-a-kind designs.

According to her website, her focus is on her Urchin brand, as well as couture and bridal:

“My brand [Urchin] is true hand draped and fitted bespoke couture. It is unusual in that nothing is reproduced. The process is incredibly organic. Each and every piece is one of a kind, and specific to my particular client. Urchin’s aesthetic is sculptural and textural, with a heavy emphasis on fit, function, and wearability, while focusing on beautiful detail,” her website indicates.

But in addition to her brand, she focuses on couture:

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“A great deal of my work is bespoke. That is to say that I design specifically for and with my clients, and tailor the pieces specifically to my clients own figures, personalities, and needs. I am constantly hunting out new treasures to incorporate to give that extra touch and elegance to a piece. You often cannot achieve that same look or fit of custom couture with a store-bought item, and it doesn’t have any of the clients own resonance in it. The artistry, love, care, and attention to personal detail in my pieces are some of the hallmarks of what my clients come to me for that you cannot achieve in mass produced product and why most of my business is by referral.”

5. She eventually decided to audition for Project Runway.

When asked why she decided to apply for the series, she said, “One of the members [of the casting agency] reached out to me, and we had a discussion about it. They said, ‘This could be really good exposure for your brand, if you wanted to do this. The competitions have more time, they’re going to take it to the next level, they’re taking [Project Runway] back to where it originally was.’ And I said, ‘You know, this sounds really good’. It’s kind of a leap of faith, for where I am in my career to be doing this...but to really get yourself noticed, it’s a great platform to be seen.”

But designing on the show versus one-on-one with her clients proved to be a little bit challenging.

According to Kasparian, “I considered the judges my clients, which is difficult for me because when I sit down with someone, I get them. I sit down, look inside them and feel who they are. You can’t do that with a panel of judges. It's one thing to have your brand, but when you do bespoke couture, you can’t necessarily have that in an environment like that. You have to build something that you think represents the brand to the best of your ability, even though it’s a different animal.”

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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.