Fashion / Style

Houston Designer Booted From Project Runway — Alan Gonzalez is Done Wrong by a Silver Bra

Showman With a Touching Story Leaves Early in Something of a Surprise

BY // 12.20.19

In the latest episode of Project Runway, designers were faced with the dreaded “Unconventional Materials Challenge,” in which they were told to create a holiday party dress made of objects like ribbons, wreaths, wrapping paper, garland and ornaments in one day. For much of the time, it appeared that Houston designer Alan Gonzalez would barely squeak by to the next round, even though the skirt and bra top made of  sheer ribbon and silver leaves that he designed was savaged by the judges and some fellow designers.

“It looks like you spray painted a bird and stuffed it on her breast,” judge Brandon Maxwell snapped. “It’s not tasteful.”

“I don’t know what happened in the workroom, but it looks you wrapped ribbons around her breast,” acerbic judge Nina Garcia snipped. “There’s very little construction.”

“Alan’s girl is probably going to a rave,” one catty contestant carped. “You’re not sure what party she’s going to, but she going to be on drugs.”

Even so, two other designers had outfits that, to this observer, looked even worse. And, I figured, the producers would keep Gonzalez on because he generates high drama and seems much loved by the cameras.

He’s been featured often in the first two episodes and was center stage again in the third installment. He fretted over the materials he selected for the challenge, wondered whether his creation did, indeed, cover enough of the model’s breast, clashed with mentor Christian Siriano over styling the outfit, and reminisced about his holidays as a teenager, when his parents drove him and his younger brother around Houston to see the Christmas decorations.

“It was just this magical world of possibilities, but when I was 15, my father was deported. He dropped me off at school in the morning, and by the time I came home on the bus, he wasn’t there any more. I haven’t seen him since,” Gonzalez said during the show.

“My dad would hang up all the Christmas lights, but I started to be the one to hang the lights so my little brother gets the same holiday spirit I did when growing up.”

Alan Gonzalez’s Goodbye

Yet, despite his on-air charisma and prominent placement in the story line, judges sent him home in a mild surprise. “Alan again was giving me excuses and I don’t want excuses,” Garcia said.

As the youngest designer on the show, Gonzalez didn’t have the maturity or expertise that other contestants possess. He often seemed indecisive about what to create and often looked to Siriano to help him out.

“What is happening over here?,” Siriano asked during a workroom visit.

“A lot and a lot of nothing,” Gonzalez replied.

“Focus,” Siriano urged. “Is it gold? Is it green? Figure it out and then you can start build your textiles.”

“It’s not happy holidays,” Gonzalez said.

“Not yet,” Siriano replied.

Gonzalez’s silver-leaf skirt had potential, but the asymmetrical bra was a disaster, compounded by clunky knee-high white fur snowboots. “He likes to put everything on that (accessories) wall in one look,” Siriano carped.

“As long as you sell it as your look, I think we’ll be fine,” Gonzalez told his model. “I’m just praying at this point.”

His prayers were not answered but judges softened toward the 25-year-old designer once they voted him off the show. “From one Texas boy to another, I’m proud to have gotten to see your work and I know we will see more of it,” Maxwell said.

“I thought I was ready, but I guess I wasn’t,” a chastened Gonzalez said at the end of the show. “I struggled to find my true voice as Alantude on the runway. I did not know that could happen.”

But in the online after show, Gonzalez was more upbeat.

“The competition has changed me for the better,” he noted. “It taught me I have more to learn. I know I am a great designer. I just need more time.”

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