Project Runway NZ Week 1 recap + exit interview with Nicole Schmidt

Project Runway New Zealand

The Project Runway New Zealand designers on the runway for the first elimination. Image supplied.

The highly anticipated first episode of Project Runway New Zealand debuted tonight with Hawke’s Bay local Nicole Schmidt the first designer eliminated from the show.

The 14 emerging designers met each other for the first time in Auckland where they were tasked by host Georgia Fowler and mentor Andreas Mikellis to design a cocktail dress inspired from the Hӧpt Soda flavour they had selected. It was an interesting first challenge to kick things off and saw each designer given 30 minutes to draft a design and another 30 minutes to source fabric with a $300 budget. After getting to quickly measure their models from Red Eleven, there was a little drama in the fabric store with Nicole and Beth after the same fabric but each designer walked away with fabric in hand and a plan for the day ahead.

Well at least most of them had a plan, with it quickly becoming clear who thrives on pressure and who doesn’t, with a few wobbles early in the piece. Menswear designer Massey Williams wasn’t all too sure how to make a cocktail dress while Lenon Wakuwa changed design mid-challenge and suffered a broken sewing machine needle. Each designer got stuck into the challenge though with a day-and-a-half to create their design before doing a final fitting on their model and instructing the Maybelline makeup team and Schwarzkopf hair team on their desired beauty look.

The runway sequence introduced us to judges Sally-Ann Mullin, Fashion Quarterly’s editor and Benny Castles, designer and director of WORLD. They were joined by guest judge Jessica Grubiša, co-designer from Harman Grubiša. Georgia and the judges assessed each look on the runway without knowing who the designer was and deciding on the top designs and bottom two. Designer Benjamin Alexander impressed with his coat dress with ruffled details while Nicole Schmidt’s corset-style dress didn’t get the judges approval and she was sent home.

“Although my time was short, it was a blast and an overwhelming one!” says Nicole. “As a new mum of a young baby I felt happy that I tried, sad I didn’t go far, but pleased to be back with my son. This competition has only made me more driven to push my fashion to the next stage!”

Project Runway New Zealand

Designer Nicole Schmidt was the first contestant eliminated on Project Runway New Zealand. Image by Tom Hollow.

We caught up with Nicole to find out more about her experience on the show, what she would have done differently and what’s next for her.

How would you describe your Project Runway New Zealand experience in five words?
Exciting, overwhelming, fun, creative and interesting.

What challenge were you hoping to have competed in?
Any challenges that were out of the box using unconventional materials.

Is there anything you would do differently if you could do the show again?
Yes probably everything! I think the choice of fabric should have been different. If given the chance again, I would of made a completely different dress.

What was it like walking in and meeting everyone for the first time?
Very intimidating. You could feel the tension of the competition from the start. Such an interesting and wonderful bunch of people.

Which other designer/s did you bond with on the show?
I feel like I wasn’t really there long enough to bond, but almost all of them were lovely warm-hearted people that were easy to get along with.

What was your favourite moment from the filming of the show?
Meeting the stunning models and starting to see everyone’s outfits come to life on them. It was the first chance to see what everyone’s style was.

What is your advice for anyone who wants to be on Project Runway New Zealand in future?
Don’t doubt yourself and don’t over think it too much – it will slow you down. It’s really a big race, so you have to give it your all.

What’s next for you?
Back to my sewing room. My small business is slowly moving forward and I have orders to finish in between my son’s nap times.

Tune in to Project Runway New Zealand next Monday, 7.30pm on TVNZ 2 to find out who will win the challenge and who will walk. We can’t wait! If you missed an episode you can always catch up on TVNZ On Demand here.

See every look from the runway this week below.

Images supplied.