Anyone familiar with the Lifetime (once Bravo) show Project Runway can quickly envision what the new spinoff Project Accessory might entail. This new show pits shoe, handbag and jewelry designers against one another to find the best overall accessory designers. Recently they held auditions in Miami, New York, Chicago and L.A. I was so excited to be able to go to the Chicago call out this past Thursday.
It was a VERY early morning for me. I planned on waking at 4:30am, but pushed the snooze until around 5:15. I left home around 6am, but with the time change, I was able to get to Chicago around 7am. The auditions were supposed to start at 9am at the Hard Rock Hotel. I figured the line would be around the block, but only around 30 people were there that early. We all headed into a room on the second floor and took seats to get ready for the first round of screening. It wasn't long before the room filled up and an overflow room also started swarming with hopefuls.
The crowd was such an interesting assortment of people, people dressed to the nines, or just completely quirky and bizarre, or more casual like me. Some people carried luggage filled with bags or shoes. There were a ton of jewelry designers and the screeners told us off the bat that we should feel lucky if we made it through the first round because they had seen so many jewelers at the other two auditions.
They called us up one by one to a screening table. One extremely nice and patient woman was doing all of the screening but she also had an assistant who handled all the applications and took photos of the people who got through the first round. The woman screening my jewelry was incredibly complementary and she even gave me some tips of what to say in front of the judges. On a side note, when I told her I was also a personal trainer, she told me that her last job was producing the Biggest Loser and she made a point of saying she had absolutely nothing to do with choosing Anna Kournikova as their next trainer. I knew this lady had great taste when she dissed Kournikova. Anyway, she passed me through and I shuffled over to the side to get my photo taken by the assistant. My photo was attached to my application and I was given a bright pink wristband.
After the first round, the waiting really started. We moved rooms and people kept shuffling in and out as they went through the first screening. Finally, around 3pm we were called to do an on-camera interview with the judges. They took us back to a hallway and a member of the crew hooked me up with a microphone. We were given very detailed instructions on how to proceed once we entered the room. We were supposed to drop off our jewelry and portfolios to the judges and then step back to a mark where we would answer some of their questions. I had made some hand-bound small portfolios of my work and I brought some necklaces and rings.
When I entered the room, the lights were so bright and the judges looked fantastic, as if they were being filmed for the actual show. There were two men and two women and they were all extremely nice. They asked me how I would take the concept of certain jewelry pieces and apply them to shoe and handbag design. They said they were really impressed by my answers. They also said that I should look into selling through the Sundance catalog because they thought I would do very well. They said that they may be contacting me for further information, so I didn't get a definite no or a definite yes. I will be shocked ten ways to Tuesday if I hear from them, but it would be amazing if I did!
All in all, it was an amazing experience and I will probably audition next year as well. It helped me to think more about how I present my work and it helped me to think from a fashion perspective rather than an art perspective. Now I'm focusing more on lines of jewelry and releasing new designs for seasons much like fashion designers. I may also take some time to do some side projects designing handbags and shoes to help my chances for next year. Ultimately, it gave me some validation and more creative impetus to take my jewelry to a new level and I can't wait to get started in the studio with the new energy I have.