To be young and successful…
Matt Sarafa, former Project Runway Junior contestant has made his own lane in fashion. Inspired by his experience from Project Runway Junior and rapper Cardi B. Sarafa’s found himself alongside some of Fashion’s major designers.
We caught up with the young designer after his Paris Fashion Week success.
Did you know that you were the youngest designer to show at PFW this season?
It’s such a huge honor to think that at this point in my life I am already doing the things I only dreamt of doing. I am so humbled and grateful for the opportunities that have opened up in my short career so far. I can’t wait to see what happens in the future!
What prompted you to show your collection in Paris?
For me, Paris is the ultimate dream for so many designers. I did NYFW in February. I thought how I could top this. My assistant and I laughed about me showing at Paris Fashion Week. Then, I got an email that invited me to show. I was in total shock. It was such a huge honor. I was humbled by it.
What inspires you to blur gender lines in your collection?
I have always thought it’s silly to shop in one section. I like to experiment…mix and match a little bit and blur the gender lines. It’s more fun that way. Androgyny and unisex stuff is the future of fashion!
When did you know you wanted to be a fashion designer?
When I was seven years old, I remembered watching Project Runway for the first time. We sat down and watched the entire season. I really admired how the designers were able to take an idea from their head, sketch and bring it together with textiles and fabrication.
I thought that was magical. I have to try this! I started sketching. I began to take sewing classes… and here I am today. I got a taste for the industry. I knew it was for me and this is what I can see myself doing for the rest of my life.
I love that. I am a binge watcher of Project Runway. However, I could never execute the way you did. You grabbed the sketchbook and got it going!?
“It came so naturally to me. It was meant to be I think.”
Were you nervous to apply to Project Runway Junior? How happy are you that you applied?
I have never been so anxious…some of the best experiences in my life. It was definitely the experience that made me grow as a person the most.
It was so much work emotionally and psychically draining. The connections I made from the show and opportunities that came after were great. Also, the lifelong friendships that I made while I was on the show. It is unexplainable how close you get to other people while filming a reality show. Where we are all under the same pressure, we are all designers and have super creative minds. It’s really magical. Sometimes, I just don’t believe it. It has all really happened for me in the last two years. It’s crazy to think everything has happened so fast.
What was life like after Project Runway?
The weeks after Project Runway was wild. They were some of the busiest weeks of my life. I was going to school full time but I also had four billion meetings every week. I was always leaving school early, getting doctors notes, trying to scam my way out of class.
Trying to make money moves! The whole thing about these shows is you can’t let them do the work for you. You need to put in the time and take advantage of the platform you’ve been given.
I went to work preparing for when the show aired. I immediately started working on my line, “HOT MESS”. I wanted to get my website up and running and social media up to par. I knew this was going to be a life-changing opportunity. Once it aired it changed my life more than I could have ever anticipated.
Speaking of money moves, are you a fan of Cardi B?
I am the biggest Cardi B fan ever! I have been following her before “LOVE & HIP HOP”. Funny enough, I am actually working on a project for my typography class. Where you have to pick a song and make an album cover for it. I picked “Bodak Yellow”. I think she’s such an inspiration…from reality television and now number one on Billboard music charts.
What are you studying at school?
I just started my sophomore year at UCLA. I am in the design media arts program. It’s a blend of technology and art. I love the program is very small and close-knit group of students. Everyone here is so creative and inspiring. I am really learning a lot that I can apply to my career.
What advice would you give to someone who is trying to balance his or her career and passion?
I never like to take on more than I can handle. When you start to take on a million opportunities and projects. You can spread yourself too thin then it just doesn’t work out. I like to be super proud of everything that I do. You have to search within yourself. Figure out what you can handle.
The ultimate goal is to inspire people to be themselves. Keep going, keep working, do not allow anyone to stop you!