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HCC alum going strong on ‘Project Runway’

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    Andy South is a top contender on Lifetime's "Project Runway."
    Andy South's Episode 3 "Party" winning design on "Project Runway."

Honolulu Community College’s fashion technology program has been inundated with phone calls ever since it became known that alumnus Andy South is one of the designers competing on Lifetime television’s "Project Runway."

At first, his teachers were excited to talk about their former star pupil, but answering the same questions every day for three weeks has begun to wear thin.

"It’s gotten to the point where we don’t want to pick up the phone anymore," said professor Karen Hastings. "Something needs to be done to let people know what’s going on from week to week. Can you help us?"

Up until now I’ve refrained from writing weekly updates, figuring that, just as in past seasons of the fashion design competition, people interested in fashion would simply turn on their televisions at the appointed hour and watch. Easy, right?

Apparently, not easy enough for some, so beginning tonight, after the show, I will post the televised standings on the status of Hawaii’s two contenders, South and Ivy Higa, on my Fashiontribe blog, at

Then, every Thursday I’ll print a recap on these pages, along with a reminder to tune in for more of the design action.


Airs at 6 p.m. today on Lifetime

If you miss it:
Evening’s results at; episode repeats at 8 p.m. Saturdays.

Hopefully, watching this show will generate more support for people like South and Higa, as well as other young artists, performers and creative people I write about on a regular basis, who are at home creating and trying to eke out a living without the benefit of a national TV show to catch the public’s attention.

Here are some of the questions asked about South and the HCC program:

» How is Andy doing? He’s doing well. He was named winner of Episode 3’s "Party Challenge" for a look made of party-store material — lengths of ribbon he braided and stitched together to create a dramatic, leathery look. In the first four episodes, he’s never hit the "worst look" bottom-three list.

» How was Andy as a student? "He was the president of our Fashion Society," said HCC instructor Joy Nagaue. "He always treated everybody with respect. He’s not the type to say anything bad about anybody." On the show, that translates to his quiet presence in the workroom. Although the fashion world is known for oversize egos and difficult personalities, Nagaue said South "could find a place for everybody. He was very diplomatic, very kind, very humble."

» What courses did he take to become so good? All fashion technology students are put through a prescribed curriculum that starts with basic sewing skills, but Nagaue said people underestimate the time, hard work and creativity that goes into achieving South’s success, or that of Season 7 "Project Runway" finalist Jay Sario, also an HCC alum, who will be dressing one of the actresses on the Emmy Awards broadcast Sunday night.

"People don’t realize that Andrew was already doing this in high school," Nagaue said. "He was making everybody’s senior prom gown. Jay didn’t do any of that. He just came in and started raw. It’s helpful if students come in with the ability to sew, but we take them anywhere they’re at."

» Is he going to win? He can’t say, at risk of upsetting his standing in the competition, which lags real time. At this point, those who have made it into the finale are working on collections they will be presenting at New York Fashion Week beginning Sept. 9. The show’s winner will be named after that time, so to distract from the possible winners, the "Project Runway" fashion show typically features four to eight designers to keep people guessing the identities of the top three finishers.

But … it’s hard to ignore sightings of "PR" host/fashion guru Tim Gunn around town, where restaurant personnel do talk and news spreads fast on social media networks. Gunn typically makes home visits with each finalist to check on their progress before they return to New York to present their final collections.

Gunn sightings suggest South has attained at least Top 4 status, the same achieved by Sario last season.

» How do I enroll in the program? To enroll in the spring semester that begins in January, call the HCC registrar’s office at 845-9211.


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