No one was as surprised by his Project Runway 2017 win as Season 16 winner Kentaro Kameyama. At NYFW the winning designer sent down an artsy 10-piece collection, inspired by his Japanese culture, the models walking to the haunting melody of his original classical piano music. The audience was silent, instantly mesmerized. According to Heidi Klum, “hear a mouse fart,” the audience was so captivated by the sheer artistic beauty of the designer’s unique sensory experience.
What does Kentaro say about his win, the dead cat that inspired his original composition, and the reunion show with the “cheating twins”?
The Project Runway Season 16 Win
After the judges evaluated Kentaro’s two preview looks for his fashion collection, he was at the bottom, and Kenya Freeman wound up not showing at NYFW.
On the show, Kentaro declared that he knew he was going to “lose,” so he was going to do what he wanted. But he told TV Line that he was not sure if the judges would really understand what his collection was all about.
“I wasn’t sure if the judges were going to understand my art and my point of view, so I was OK not winning and I would have understood if they didn’t pick me.”
Kentaro explained to Entertainment Weekly that he rebelled against what the judges told him to do, and what “make it work” mentor, Tim Gunn told him to do.
“I didn’t want to give myself weird, unnecessary pressure. I was really not listening to the judges or Tim Gunn. Tim Gunn didn’t really like what I was doing, so I kind of had to be true to myself at that point.”
In the end, he was happy with what he showed, because he did not compromise his vision. Yet, he knew it was anyone’s game. The final designers were all fabulous and all had their own point of view.
“I’m happy, and I liked my collection the best because I did what I wanted to do, but anyone could have won, I think.”
The Dead Cat
Did Kentaro really bury a dead cat he saw in the street?
The 38-year-old winner of Project Runway Season 16 told TV Line that “I really did it.” He did indeed bury a dead cat that he found on the road. As fans saw in the first part of the Project Runway Season 16 finale, Kentaro wrote a song as a tribute to this cat and performed a bit for Tim Gunn.
Unfortunately, the show did not go further into why Kentaro felt it was important to bury the deceased animal: respect. Thanks to his interview response, Project Runway fans are now privy to an important part of Kentaro’s childhood and learned how his mother rescued stray animals.
“I treat animals the way I want to be treated. Animals have character and personality. I don’t look down on them. Sometimes human beings think dogs and cats are below us, but I treat animals with respect. It know it sounds weird. I don’t want to die on the side of the street, but if I did, I’d want someone to take my body [and bury it]. I wanted the cat have a proper funeral-ish, so I did it. Some people think I’m creepy or scary, but my mom was an animal lover. She rescued a lot of animals from shelters, so I’ve had a lot of animals in my house. I know what to do with dead animals. I feel sad and I treat them the way they should be. It’s a normal process for me.”
The Reunion Show With The Twins
As for the reunion with the other Project Runway Season 16 designers, which will air on Lifetime on November 30, Kentaro admits it was nice to have some time off from everyone before reuniting again.
Yet, he made it clear that throughout the season, he was focused on his designs and not drama, including “people fighting over the twins and cheating and things like that.”
What does Kentaro have to say about the cheating scandal? He said that Claire and her tape measure were not the only workroom supplies that went home with the designers.
“Oh, well. I don’t know. It’s kind of, it was very weird. Because I know that people take tools to the hotel, not intentionally because we work late and are really tired. But I have seen other designers having a tape measure around their neck and then we go to the hotel.”
In the end, the Japanese-born designer likened the Project Runway experience to classical piano “summer camp.” The group immediately all became friends because of their shared love of fashion design and creative ambitions.
“Everyone was a different designer, but we all had the same dream, so I love that kind of crowd.”
Would this include the twins? Kentaro liked both of the twins and had nothing but wonderful things to say about them.
“Surprisingly, Shawn and Claire are nice people, especially Shawn, and she’s really cool to talk with. They looked really bad and a lot of people hated them, but I liked them. They’re nice people. They did not talk to anyone, but they’re nice.”
And what about his “brother” Brandon Kee? Were there any hard feelings after Kentaro’s surprise win, in light of Brandon’s popularity with the judges all season?
Kentaro explained that the two remain good friends, “it’s good to have someone I can trust.” He explained that one of the reasons that he participated in Project Runway was to develop relationships with other designers.
What Is Next For Kentaro?
The designer who is currently a teacher at FCI Fashion School, and has recently been promoted to design chairs, claims he has no immediate plans to show a collection.
Yet, Kentaro does want to be involved with Los Angeles Fashion Week, and to focus on both student and graduate design work, as well as on making California a fashion hotspot. Right now this has all happened so fast, and he just wants to contemplate his options.
“Everyone said, ‘So what’s next?’ That’s what I have to think about. I feel like I just came from Japan. I don’t speak English well, and I don’t have my family here. But I am excited about what’s going to happen. I have to be smart about it.”
Any hints at what the Project Runway Season 16 winner may be doing next? Kentaro’s Instagram has hinted that he is working on something quite intriguing. His photo of fabrics includes a muted palette, with his signature, a pop of color! This fabric collection includes a vibrant pink fur.
Most of all, Kentaro appreciates what winning Project Runway affords him. People now stop him at the airport, they will ask for a photo or his autograph and his social media channels are being followed.
“I appreciate that I’ve got this opportunity. I’m working here and I get to do my fashion show, which was a huge deal for me when I started in fashion. It’s a huge opportunity for a new designer.”
[Featured Image by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images For NYFW The Shows]