5 minutes with Andreas & Benny

We catch up with Benny Castles and Andreas Mikellis to talk all things Project Runway New Zealand.



Andreas, as a mentor what does your role require?
My role is to support the designers, give them feedback and to encourage them to produce the most exciting and innovative work.

Do you feel from that first meeting in the workroom that some designers stand out more than others?
Some designer’s personalities are more gregarious than others, but all the designers have their own individual strengths, and each challenge stretches their skill levels in different ways, they all stand out in their own way! Watching past episodes of Project Runway there seems to be a lot of drama going on in these episodes.

Can you let our readers know if this happens on the NZ show? Are you the one to temper these dramas?
It’s a very heightened environment with extremely short deadlines, and if you put a group of talented and ambitious designers in this space together, tensions can rise and dramas unfold!

What was the standout moment for you?
There are so many standout moments, from designers discovering that they had design talents in areas that they had previously no experience in, to the extraordinary resourcefulness many of the designers showed.



Benny, you have a style that stands out in the crowd. Is this something that you are looking for in the designers?
Yes and no! Fashion runways are about creating moments of inspiration and excitement— garments and concepts that lift your spirits, take your breath away and create an insatiable allure—that is what I am looking for from the designers. Whilst I put myself together in a certain way that feels right to me, I am not looking for the designers to please me, but rather shock me with their talent and their individuality.

Is there a diverse cast of designers?
The show represents New Zealand at its most diverse, whether that be by sex, ethnicity or age—most importantly the show has found a collection of unique and characterful personalities. The judging was done blind so you really identify with their distinct and unique creativity irrespective of all the other diversity represented.

What is the best advice you can offer a student who has a desire to become a clothing designer?
Work hard and then work harder and most importantly do the work for the passion of it and you will never be disappointed. Perhaps also always listen respectfully to advice passed on by those who have done it before, but always respectfully disregard advice passed on by those who have done it before!

What for you is a standout memory from this series?
It’s not one memory, but week after week all of the designers were able to create such extraordinary solutions to the briefs and their passion, commitment and creativity did not go unnoticed—with tight timelines and limited budgets their work was nothing short of spectacular and being able to witness these moments has been humbling and energising. I hope everyone at home gets the same feeling!