Openly gay fashion designer Matt Sarafa aspires to be on the same level as some of the greatest designers in fashion. The 19 year-old designer is a reality show veteran and is currently on his third collection, ROLEPLAY. Sarafa talked to Windy City Times about his reality TV experience, his fashions lines and why school is important to him.
Windy City Times: You are currently attending UCLA. How do you balance school with being a designer?
Matt Sarafa: I am currently so busy and I have a million things going on. I'm the type of person that can multitask really well and I am really focused on school, but since I've been little, I've been really career-oriented and I knew that I wanted to have my own business and my own company. Fashion has been my dream since I was 7 years-old.
WCT: Why is school so important to you?
MS: For my parents, education is very important, and I think it's great to have something to fall back on just in case everything doesn't work outalways have a plan B. I think it's important to be well-rounded as a person. Here at school I'm not just learning about fashion, I'm learning about so many different things and I'm also getting the life experience of being a college student, and if I hadn't done that, I would have regretted it later on in life.
WCT: You appeared on the first season of Project Runway: Threads, in 2014, when you were 16. Why did you choose to go on that show?
MS: At the time when the opportunity presented itself to me, I thought that it would be an amazing career move and my chance to show my design skills and my passion for design to all of America and internationally as well. In the end it was an amazing thing because it opened up the door for so many more opportunities. Without doing that show, I wouldn't have gotten Project Runway: Junior and, without Project Runway: Junior, I would not have had my own clothing line and shown at New York Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week.
WCT: Your collections include Hott Me$$, FAKEwhich made its debut at New York Fashion Week this springand you recently came back from Paris Fashion Week, where you debuted your spring/summer collection, ROLEPLAY. What was that experience like?
MS: Paris Fashion Week was really incredible, and I was the second youngest designer to show a collection there which was super exciting. I had never actually been to Paris before. It's such a magical city. Being there during Fashion Week with all of the fashionable people and the beautiful architectureit was such an amazing week and I got to bring my team out there. It was really an amazing experience and it felt surreal the entire time I was there.
WCT: Describe the difference between your FAKE collection and your ROLEPLAY collections.
MS: My FAKE collection was a fall/winter line and it was much different from my ROLEPLAY collection. I wanted to go lighter and more fun and playful with [ROLEPLAY] so I tried to stray away from using any black in the collection because I wanted it to be really light and airy and fun. I wanted to incorporate more colors than I usually worked with before. In the spring it's all about pretty colors, lightness and fresh, so I really wanted to do that. In contrast, in my New York Fashion Week line [FAKE], there was a lot of dark colors, a lot more edginess.
WCT: Are your collections inspired by anything in particular?
MS: Usually when I come up with a collection, it has a backstory to it. My most recent collection, ROLEPLAY, was inspired by gender roles. The main color of the collection was a baby blue and baby pink and throughout the collection I was playing with masculinity and femininity and how their tied to these different colors. How the girls are only supposed to wear the pink and the boys are only supposed to wear the blue. And as a man wearing pink he is less of a man. FAKE was inspired by social media and how we only put our best self forward on social media. Were always posting pictures where we're on a cool vacation or we're looking our best. We never post the negative parts of our lives.
WCT: What about Hott Me$$?
MS: That was a little bit different. That was the line I did right after I came out of Project Runway: Junior. On the show that kind of became my little catchphrase and I build the collection around that. That was really special because that was the first project that I ever put out for sale to the general public.
WCT: Is Lady Gaga still your fashion icon?
MS: Yes; I love Lady Gaga and I really admired her since I was younger. I love super-edgy and over-the-top different clothes and I love people who aren't afraid to express themselves to the fullest. I think that's what really attracted me to Lady Gaga in the first place.
WCT: Do people treat you any differently because you are a 19-year-old fashion designer?
MS: It makes you have to work harder to get people to take you seriously. I've had so many doors and opportunities closed because of my age and people don't think your taking it seriouslythey think it's a little hobby. I've been working really hard and I think these past couple of yearssince I've been raking in all these accomplishmentspeople take me more seriously as a designer and that's what I want. I want to be a respected designer and up there with all the highest designers. That's my ultimate goal.
To find out more about Matt Sarafa, visit MattSarafa.com .