Alan Gonzalez made quite an impression in his brief Project Runway run. (Photo courtesy of Bravo)
A 'Project Runway' judge likened a dress designed by Alan Gonzalez to a "bad version of a Destiny's Child costume from way back in the day," but he considers that a compliment. (Photo courtesy of Bravo)
Alan Gonzalez presented his spring 2020 collection at the Museum of Natural Science in November. (Instagram: @alantude)
Alan Gonzalez, right, is congratulated by Anika Jackson after showing his collection at Fashion X at River Oaks District. (File photo)
Houston designer Chloe Dao won season 2 of 'Project Runway.' (File photo)
Alan Gonzalez' most recent runway show at the Museum of Natural Science last month had a space age theme. (Instagram: @alantude)
Houston’s own Chloe Dao won top honors in Season Two of Project Runway nearly 15 years ago. Now another Houstonian is aiming to follow in her footsteps in the latest edition of the hit reality series.
Alan Gonzalez threw a big party at Silver Street Studios Thursday night as several hundred of his friends and supporters showed up to watch the first episode of Season 18 as it was broadcast on Bravo. The 25-year old Houston designer is one of 16 contestants who is hoping to be the latest winner, but he got off to a rocky start as judges dissed his first effort, although he got a lot of air time that showcased his ability with a fast quip, and could become a fan favorite if he can stick around long enough.
The Houston audience groaned as it appeared Gonzalez might be headed for elimination but cheered loudly as host Karlie Kloss announced he would move on to the next round. After the show aired, he stuck around for a Q&A, where he talked about his experience, revealed some secrets, and expressed relief about his close call.
“Another day, another twirl,” he said to loud applause.
As veteran watchers of the show know, a visit to Mood, where designers get only 30 minutes to pick out their fabrics for that week’s challenge, can spell the difference between success and failure. Gonzalez, who had never visited New York before being selected for the show, admitted he was overwhelmed by the mammoth fabric store.
“It is a three-story building with floor-to-ceiling fabrics. I thought I’d go in there and they’d give me a tour. But, no, they said, ’30 minutes, go!’ I ran for my life, but I was not ready for the amount of fabrics that they had. It was absolutely horrible,” he recalled.
To make matters worse, he and his partner, who were teamed together for the challenge, which required them to design two different outfits to wear during an interstellar vacation, left part of their fabric cache at the store. They only discovered when they got back to the Brooklyn design studio that they were missing a large swath of organza.
“We had six different people that would cut our fabric at the store and they all had a ticket for us, but not all of them put it in a bag and that was a problem. Later on we found out, you could go to the same person who would cut all of the fabric for you,” he said.
Gonzalez, who is known for designing flirty party dresses and evening gowns, created a short white dress with a floral panel skirt and silver metallic band at the bodice. But judges hated it.
Judge Elaine Welteroth likened it to a “bad version of a Destiny’s Child costume from way back in the day,” which Gonzalez considered a weird compliment, since he and the Destiny’s Child trio both hail from Houston.
“It was a dis but that’s OK, Elaine. I’m not mad about it, I’ll take the compliment whichever way it comes,” he said.
Gonzalez has a camera-ready back story. He was born in Mexico and immigrated to Houston from Monterrey with his family when he was three years old. When he was 15, his father was deported, leaving his mother a single parent of two in Houston. He started to develop an interest in fashion while a student at the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, where he majored in musical theater — good training as it turns out, because his ease in front of the camera obviously makes for good TV.
He entered the fashion design program at Houston Community College in 2012 and, after graduation, launched a label called Alantude. He has periodically showcased his collections at dramatic runway shows in Houston, most recently at the Museum of Natural Science, where his spring 2020 collection had a space age vibe.
Grind & Glitz
While Gonzalez is always ready with a flashy quote, he realizes that being a fashion designer is hard work.
“It is not the glitz and glam that they always throw in your face. That’s not the life. Your life is sewing and working hard hour after hour, day after day, month after month. Constantly you have to be OK with this work. It’s a working profession,” he said.
When not in the design studio, Gonzalez is a youth minister and believes his religious faith led him to the reality series. “I did not think that I would ever be on Project Runway. And then the Lord said, ‘Alan you’ve got to be on that show.’ And I said, ‘Jesus Christ, I’m not going to say no to you.’ So here we are,” he said.
No matter how this season of Project Runway ends, Gonzalez was transformed by the experience. After the series finale at New York Fashion Week in February, Gonzalez will remain in New York to expand his Alantude brand.
“Moving to New York is going to give me those opportunities,” he said. “It’s going to be very hard and it’s going to be a lot of work, but that is part of it.”
Despite his rocky start in the first episode, Gonzalez isn’t going to veer from the optimistic attitude that got him there in the first place and vows to stay true to himself.
“That’s the best thing the viewers like. Know what you’re good at, keep going forward, and sell it,” he said. “I am myself. Soy espanol. I’m going to stick to what I am unapologetically.”
Project Runway airs new episodes Thursdays at 8:30 pm on Bravo.