When Jaxson Metzler described his fashion aesthetic to Project Runway: Junior host Tim Gunn, he said that he's inspired by “B.A. women who want to look glamorous.”
“For what women?” asked Gunn.
“Bad-ass women, that's what they are,” Metzler replied.
Metzler, a 16-year-old from Minneapolis, Kansas, is a contestant on Project Runway: Junior, the Project Runway spin-off show for teenage designers. The show, which premiered on Nov. 12, is currently showing on Lifetime.
“The B.A. women are very confident in themselves and also when they are wearing clothes. And it also makes them look very powerful, and very kind of like, 'Ooh, I want to be friends with you,' but you're like, 'Hmm, you might kill me.'” Metzler explained to host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard.
Metzler, who is known for his avant-garde creations on the show, first became interested in fashion at a young age.
"Ever since I was a little kid, I knew I was artsy-fartsy," he said.
Then, one day, when he was nine or ten years old, he and his mom were sitting on the couch, scrolling through the TV, when they stumbled upon Project Runway. He was inspired by the design styles of the contestants and how they created such interesting outfits in a short amount of time.
"I thought, 'This is amazing, I want to do it.' And ever since, I've loved fashion," he said.
He started learning how to sew from his grandmother. She would get the pattern pieces out, they'd cut them and she taught him how to sew through a step approach.
With her help, he made pajama pants for his family for Christmas.
After learning the basics, Metzler realized that he needed to up his sewing game.
"You can do an elastic waistband, kind of simple straight seams, a button ... but really, what takes it to the next level is when you start adding more difficult seams, adding different types of zippers ... more complex designs, also."
He started taking sewing classes through 4H from a teacher in Salina. She taught him some shortcuts and quick ways to make the clothes look expensive — skills that come in handy on the show.
"I do feel like that prepared me in a unique way ... it kind of saved time during the challenges," he said.
Metzler said that his upbringing in Minneapolis — a town of around 2,000 that’s 20 minutes north of Salina — has given him a different perspective on the show.
“I have to research more about fashion because I clearly don't live in a fashion capital,” he said.
He usually starts by researching online for ideas and inspiration — from designers, pictures of nature, and sometimes from watching movies. He compiles a design in his head, but he doesn't sketch it since he's a "horrible sketcher."
"Then, I just dive right in," he said.
One result was a VHS tape outfit. He overlapped the VHS tape and taped in on the back, then sewed it together for durability, creating a fabric. He then made a pattern, cut it out and created a miniskirt and bodice.
Next, he took an old sheer curtain, dyed it and made it into a mermaid-style skirt to go over the VHS tape miniskirt.
Most of his competitors on Project Runway: Junior come from both coasts. Some attended performing arts schools, where they took apparel fashion classes or learned costume design. Others learned how to sew from their mothers or grandmothers.
"Since there's not really many people around Minneapolis that like fashion, being in a room with all these other designers with like-minds was just an amazing experience," he said.
“I feel like we’re going to stay friends. We still talk today."
As for his hometown, he feels that some people have grown much more appreciative of fashion since he's been on the show.
A lot of people are awed that he's on TV, he said. But for him, it hasn't sunk in just yet.
"I thought I'd be like, 'Ohmigosh, I'm on TV!' But it seems like when I'm watching myself, it's like, 'Oh, it's just a home video.'"
Jen Chen is associate producer for KCUR's Central Standard. Reach out to her at email@example.com.