Some of Project Runway’s most accomplished designers will compete on the Lifetime show’s All-Stars season next week and two of those stars have ties to Queens.
Astoria’s Sam Donovan, 25, a contestant on “Under the Gunn” and Ridgewood’s Alexander Pope, 40, who competed on season 12 of the show, are both back to show off their design skills on “Project Runway All-Stars,” which is set to air on Feb. 11.
Donovan, who lived in Astoria before moving to Hamburg, Germany last month, said his interest in fashion design began at an early age.
“I think I’ve always been interested in fashion design,” Donovan said. “I was always designing costumes for the barbies I stole from my sister.”
He moved to Astoria after college and said he loved the neighborhood feel.
“I had a really beautiful window that looked out into Astoria,” Donovan said. “[It was] my favorite apartment that I’ve ever lived in and my favorite neighborhood.”
The Parsons School of Design graduate has been working toward a fashion career since he was 16-years-old and applied to be on the show after he was disqualified from presenting at panels for his senior thesis because he did not finish his pieces on time.
Donovan incorporates sustainable design elements into his work and was using a type of construction process called the zero waste pattern design ― no fabric is wasted in the making of a piece, which “takes forever.” Since he was not able to present his work at school, Donovan applied for “Under the Gunn” instead.
After the show, Donovan did freelance work and presented his work at shows in Boston. He was working as a designer for Macy’s when he got a call from the show producers to request his presence on “Project Runway All-Stars.”
“I was actually sitting at my desk and they were like, ‘just so you know we’re really interested in having you become an all-star this season, we think you would work really well with the cast,'” Donovan said. “And I’m sitting here and my boss is looking at me like, ‘why are you on the phone, you’re supposed to be drawing a jacket.'”
Donovan said viewers should expect to see “some really amazing designs and some really insane drama, too.” He argued that this season will feature the best group of designers that the show has ever put together and that the work was “exemplary.”
“[There are] a lot of strong personalities this season. I was one of them I can’t deny it,” Donovan said. “We caused that poor camera crew havoc. I hope they got one hell of a raise.”
Pope, a Ridgewood resident for the last three years, has a background in makeup and costume design. The Los Angeles native went to school at Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising and moved to New York 10 years ago to advance his fashion career.
Pope said he had been a fan of “Project Runway” before making a spur-of-the-moment decision to audition. The designer, whose pieces are “a little darker” and more “couture,” currently works in the costume department for Saturday Night Live, Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Opera.
He said competing on season 12 of “Project Runway” taught him time management skills and forced him to make editing decisions quickly.
“Definitely time management, that is the biggest thing coming from Broadway, coming from theater, you have hundreds of hours to do something,” Pope said. “[I learned] tweaking my design and designing for an 8-hour look.”
Pope said he hopes to build his television career in the future.
” [It’s] fairly new to me,” Pope said. “I’m enjoying it immensely.”
The fifth season of “Project Runway All-Stars” airs on Thursday, Feb. 11, at 9 p.m. on Lifetime.