DESIGNER INTERVIEW: Project Runway Junior Star Matt Sarafa Launches Hot Me$$ Collection

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Good Morning Live Life in Style readers! Today I have another great designer interview for you with 18 year old, Matt Sarafa. You may be familiar with Matt from Project Runway Juniors. Project Runway Juniors debuted November 2015 and featured designers between the age of 13 and 17. Even though Matt did not win his season of PR Juniors, he grew immensely from the experience. He is launching his first unisex collection, titled Hot Me$$ today on I was able to chat with the young designer, who starts his freshmen year at UCLA this week, on his love of fashion and time on Project Runway Juniors.

Photo Credit: Brooke Mason
How did you come up with the name of your collection, Hot Me$$?
It's a tongue and cheek play from my time on Project Runway Junior. During the unconventional challenge  I crashed and burned...very hard.  I knew that I was going to be made fun of for the work that I created, so I decided to poke fun at myself. On the challenge, I decided to use tubing and one of the judges, Aya Kanai from Seventeen Magazine, told me that my model looks like she's wearing a straight jacket. I told her, "I know. It's a hot mess!" It became a catchphrase for me throughout the rest of the season and I wanted to play off of that.

What was your motivation behind creating a unisex clothing line?
The inspiration is my personal style; which is very androgynous. My whole thing is pushing boundaries. I love playing with gender lines, and femininity. It only made sense that my debut collection would have clothes for both sexes; pieces that everyone could wear across the board. There's a lot of edgy, over-sized pieces, along with a really cool bomber jacket. There's a bunch of cool stuff that's very reflective of me as a designer but is very wearable for the every day person.

Where did you find the inspiration for the pieces in your first collection?
I was inspired by higher fashion, and street wear. I'm really inspired by London street fashion and urban clothing that people wear day to day. I was honestly selfish when I designed this collection because all of the pieces, are clothes that I would personally wear on a day to day basis. I designed stuff that I would wear and hopefully other people would like to wear too.

Photo Credit: Brooke Mason

When did you first start making clothes for other people?
I started making clothes for other people at age 7; when I first learned how to sew. I wanted to learn how to sew after watching Project Runway. My grandmother taught me the basics.  The first thing I made was this really ugly dress  for my mom. I made this really awful Frozen-like Elsa  dress. It wasn't the best, but I was so proud of it. Even though I look back on it now and it was awful, it was such a great positive for me.  I've always loved art and I've always been creative. I started making more stuff like throws and pillows. I started getting better and better. It really turned into something that I can't live without and developed a huge love for fashion and design.

How was your time on Project Runway? What things did you like about it, and what things did you dislike?
Being on Project Runway was the opportunity of a lifetime. It was very different from what I expected. To be honest, it was a lot tougher than I expected. It's very fast-paced. We filmed the entire day, 6 days a week. It's a very intense schedule, but it was definitely worth it. The other 11 amazing designers and I all love fashion. To be in an environment where we are able to do fashion all day long with other kids our age was great. I think that was really special and probably my favorite part; meeting other kids and receiving advice from top people in the fashion industry like Christian Siriano, Kelly Osbourne, & Tim Gunn. I've idolized Tim Gunn since I was little. It was a cool experience and I would absolutely do it again.

That leads me to my next question. Would you ever audition for the regular Project Runway?
I would definitely consider it. I learned to never say never.  I was a contestant on Project Runway Threads before I did Juniors, so I don't know if I would do the regular Project Runway based on the already competing on two Project Runway shows. But it's definitely something that I'm not closing my mind too. I love reality TV, personally, just to watch. I just think it's so fun. It's a really cool experience to see how something is made! Whether it's another reality competition show or just another reality TV show in general, that is something I have planned for the future.

Photo Credit: Brooke Mason
Well you already have a YouTube channel, correct? Are you still pretty active on there?
Yes I do! I have a YouTube channel called Makeup by Matt. On there, I share another side of my personality which is makeup. I'm super passionate about it. I focus on beauty, skincare, and makeup. I share tips and tricks through the two years that I've been doing makeup.  I like YouTube because it's more of a way to personally interact with my fans.  It's really fun.  I haven't been as active as I should be, but I'm trying to get back into it!

What type of work do you do with charities?
I'm very big into charity work. I was raised in a household that really valued giving back. I'm a huge LGBT supporter and advocate.  I know how hard of a time people can have. Two years in a row, I've worked with an organization called Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. They put on a charity fashion show ever year in San Francisco to raise money to help the LGBT community. It's a drag queen fashion show, and it's really great!

How do you balance all of these activities? You're about to start school, makeup artist, managing a YouTube channel, and working on your fashion collection?
It's definitely very, very tough. I'm starting my freshmen year of college at UCLA this week. It's very tough to balance school, my outside work, YouTube, and then being 18 years old, I still want to have a normal life hanging out with friends. I'm a pretty good multitasker, and I'm so passionate about all the things that I do that I find a way to make time for everything. I don't have time for much else. I do love fashion, and it's what I plan to do for the rest of my life, so I definitely make time for that.

Photo Credit: Brooke Mason

What are you studying at UCLA?
They don't have a specific fashion design program. The program that I'm in is the Design & Media Arts program. It's still very artsy, but not specifically fashion design. I'll still be working on my fashion stuff outside of school. Everything that I'll be learning I plan to apply to my fashion career as well!

What's your plan after graduation?
After I graduate, I plan on moving ahead full force. The collection today is the first one I'm doing for the public, but I eventually want to have my own empire. I want to fashion with a makeup line. I want to do it all.  It's really the only thing I see in my future. I definitely see a successful fashion career.

What tips would you give to  other young Designers?
One of my favorite things is when people contact me through social media and tell me that I inspired them to go into design. Especially because being on the show, I have had a lot of people reaching out to me asking about being young and getting into the fashion business.  My advice to young designers that want to get into fashion, is to always stay true to your design aesthetic. It's very easy for people to tweak your aesthetic, so stay true to yourself...make really unique pieces. It's really easy to get discouraged in the fashion business. Just  keep going with it and don't let anybody stop you.

Photo Credit: Brooke Mason
Photo Credit: Brooke Mason

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  1. What an awesome interview. I loved the questions! I was a fashion design major so this really spoke to me.
    Great interview.

  2. What an interesting collection! And great interview Shalanda. I loved reading his view on fashion and what inspired him to create his pieces

  3. Great collection and interview, I'm all about those jersey tops!

  4. What a unique and inspiring collection. I love the idea of a gender fluid collection and I really think it was nailed perfectly!

  5. Such a great interview! Love your questions!


  6. You asked such wonderful questions, loved the interview. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Love the Hot Me$$ name! I just broke out my own sewing machine for the first time in 20 years. Luckily, I signed up for a class, because I would definitely do far worse than that bad Frozen dress description on my own. Feeling inspired after reading this interview. Thank you :)

  8. This is so interesting and inspiring! Thank you so much for sharing!


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