Interview with Helen Castillo – New Jersey’s Own Season 12 Project Runway Designer

by Alice Magdziak • July 25, 2013 • Entertainment, Jersey FolkComments (0)3686

I simply love Project Runway and was thrilled to see that one of this season’s designers was from New Jersey!


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Helen Castillo is 25 and is from Union City. Her design aesthetic doesn’t match her tattooed personal style but isn’t that what makes Jersey girls great? We’re multifaceted! I asked her if she had any New Jersey tattoos she could share with us since we’ve featured other people’s in our Tattoo You, New Jersey series but she said she didn’t have any. Maybe that will inspire one, though!

In the first episode that aired last week, the designers had to make something out of parachute material. Helen’s was a beautiful dress that kept the spirit of the parachute including lots of the rigging hanging from the hem of the dress. This design didn’t win, unfortunately, but she wasn’t in the bottom three so she was safe from elimination.


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We got to send her a few interview questions after she wrapped up filming and here’s what she had to say.

Have you always wanted to be on Project Runway?

I’ve always watched project runway, since the very start of the series. When I took my first sewing course at FIT and dared to shop at mood alone at 14 years old, Jay from season 1, had no issue helping me choose fabric as I was bawling crying being so overwhelmed with the selection. That event gave me faith in the fashion industry; there are real people out there, and design is my life, so to be comforted knowing you can still be human, and successful, finally set in that, what the hell, why not apply and try my luck for season 12.

Are their any past Project Runway designers who you’ve rooted for because you liked their style?

I admire most of the designers who have competed, I can appreciate the different aesthetics they’ve brought to the table but I don’t find one in particular to be a favorite of mine. I dig Michelle’s personal style.

Is Tim Gunn as awesome as he seems?

Awesome doesn’t even begin to explain Tim Gunn! He is phenomenal, like the fairy godfather of runway. Tim is so selfless and wholesome, he gives it to you straight and leaves the rest to you. I learned a lot from this experience, and if I had anyone to thank for teaching me most about myself, it would be Tim Gunn.

Your personal style seems dramatically different than your design style. Could you talk about why they are so different?

I like to create beautiful things. I can’t say I care if people judge me for how I look, it only bothers me if they judge my work based on my personal style. I put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into my pieces and I’m really proud of my construction and technique with delicate fabrics. I studied couture techniques and special occasion design, and with that knowledge I can tackle anything.

Can you give us some background about your New Jersey roots?

Born and raised in Hudson county, my mother is from the Bronx and my father from Puerto Rico, how we ended up in jersey ill never know, but it’s so convenient living so close to manhattan. Like a safe haven. It’s quiet and convenient, and I have a lot of pride in being from here. Between my accent and my habits, I don’t think I would ever leave here.

Are there fabric/sewing stores in NJ that you like or is Manhattan too convenient to go anywhere else?

I typically visit mood or most fabric stores in the garment district. There’s a shop in my town that I go to out of desperation, in the hood, when I can’t make it to nyc.


Project Runway airs on Thursday nights at 9:00pm on Lifetime.

Tune in tonight to watch Helen and cheer her on in this season’s second episode!



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