Mondo Guerra brought new life to the designing table in season eight of the reality show Project Runway. Being runner up for the finals was a surprise to many as he was predicted to be the winner. During the tenth challenge he was inspired by his being HIV positive and came out to the world about his status. He appeared with Liza Minnelli to open World AIDS Day last year at the New York Stock Exchange.
He dropped into Macy’s at Water Tower Place and as Heidi says we had a “little chat.”
Jerry Nunn: Hola, Mondo. The last time I saw you was a while back at Berlin Nightclub.
Mondo Guerra: I went to Berlin last night. The night you were talking about I was judging a voguing contest that went on and on. I don’t know how many times I saw a queen do a death drop! We know the drill. You all won. You are all fabulous.
JN: (laughs) Everybody is a winner. Last time we talked I meant to ask you if Mondo is a nickname?
MG: My full name is Armando but it has been Mondo since I was a kid. If someone calls me Armando either I know they are pissed at me or I get really scared. I rarely hear it and know something is wrong. My grandmother always called me by my full name with an accent and everything, which is beautiful. But nobody else calls me Armando except my really good friends.
JN: You have been on this tour recently?
MG: Yes, I did a whole bunch of Macy’s last spring. I did like six or seven of them. This is my first stop for fall. I am doing one more in Minneapolis after this. This is my team here.
JN: They follow you around. Describe the event for people.
MG: It is called Find Your Magic. It is for people that love fashion. They come to the event and have the opportunity to be a stylist for a day. They are asked to come on stage and get the opportunity to style a model. So in the challenge it could be a night at the oper and they have to come up with what to wear. I offer them advice and tell them to think about their girl. How old is she? What does she do for a living? People have to think about what they are doing for the day before getting dressed. How do they want to feel? Fashion is such a good way to tell a story with it without even opening your mouth. In some ways I look at it like a costume. It is really fun to see how they work and what they come up with. All the unexpected things they bring to the table is fun to watch. At one event there was a high school boy that was wearing basketball shorts and jersey. I asked him to come on stage as a joke and wanted to make fun of him but he won the challenge. He was really good and knew what he was doing. I don’t think people have that chance to express themselves through other means.
JN: Did Macy’s approach you about this?
MG: Yes, they found me. I am not sure how…
JN: They hunted you down. What fashion trends do you see coming up?
MG: That is always a hard question for me. I think confidence never goes out of style. That is always a huge fashion trend. It is important to be comfortable in your own skin. I hate to say it but they are just clothes as much as I love them. For trends I am seeing a lot of polka dots. I am not saying that just because I love polka dots but I see a lot of them. Classic silhouettes are coming back. Minimalism is huge. People are trying not to overdo it anymore.
JN: Remember when scarves were the big thing?
MG: Yes, did you wear one?
JN: No. I heard you are doing the All Star Project Runway on Lifetime coming up.
MG: Yes, I am excited and nervous. It is a big group of really talented designers.
JN: It is not even one episode like they did last time. It is twelve episodes.
MG: It is twelve episodes and will be insane. It will be out later this year.
JN: Do you talk to Peach from your season when you are in town?
MG: Yes! I invited her to come to this event but she was out of town.
JN: What is your website?
JN: They can purchase your items on there?
MG: Not everything. I get e-mails from people asking me to make more clothes. I still live in a 500 square foot apartment and my studio is there. I don’t have a factory. I live in Denver and do as much as I can. It is a team of my two best friends and me. We just make t-shirts and little gifty kinds of things that people can purchase to have a piece of it for now. I promise you things are in the works and they are pretty major.
JN: “Make it work,” Mondo!