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Local designer leaves it all on the field

Nadine Kam
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Ivy Higa makes fabric selections for what turned out to be her losing design challenge.

Now that she’s exited the competition on Lifetime’s "Project Runway," Ivy Higa says she feels relieved.

"Oh my God, you have no idea," she said. "People have been so supportive. I’ve never felt so much love, even from people I don’t know."

On the other hand, she couldn’t miss the criticisms of her designs and her reputation on the show as one of two designers referred to as that b-word.

"I totally own up to it," she said in a phone interview Monday. "I feel every part of us shown is a part of us, but it’s not all of us. It’s not who we are as people. There’s always a back-story.

"I was more outspoken, assertive and blunt than others, but I was also sincere, honest and genuine with everyone and stayed true to who I am, so I have no regrets."

The show came at a critical moment in Higa’s career. "At the time, my business was at a standstill. I needed capital and was leaving it to the universe.

"I know that sounds so hippie, but I believe you get what you ask for in life, and I was grateful to have gotten the chance to show at Fashion Week, even as a decoy. Otherwise, I would not have had the opportunity to show at that point."

Her fall 2010 collection is in stores now and should be available on her website, www.Ivyh.net, beginning next month.

Her spring 2011 collection, introduced Sept. 9 during New York Fashion Week for the filming of the "Project Runway" finale, is owned by the series. The collection, an extension of the ideas she explored during Episode 8’s "Jackie O." challenge, features resort whites and cool grays in swimsuits, floor-length dresses and rompers, topped by sheer jackets.

The ensemble she created for the episode landed her in the top three designers of the week and sold for $510 in the post-show "Project Runway" auction, the highest bid fetched all season to date. (Second-highest winning bid was $384 for South’s resort swimsuit and cover-up ensemble.)

Her next project is redesigning uniforms for the restaurant Japonais, and Higa will continue to look for opportunities to build her brand. She’s mindful of past "Project Runway" contestants’ successes, but even as Jeffrey Sebelia prepares to launch a third line and Christian Siriano continues to forge new partnerships and counts himself as the author of "Fierce Style: How to Be Your Most Fabulous Self," she said, "It’s what you make of it. You can’t wait for things to happen. I believe in doing what you love, and I will continue to do this because I love it."


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