The local designer is a contestant on season 16 of the fashion competition show, and he’s not at all thrown by this year’s change: size-inclusive models that range from size 0 to 22.
Deyonté Weather of Lynnwood knew he wanted to be on “Project Runway” since the series began airing in 2004, but he bided his time until he felt he was prepared to compete.
“I’m not the kind of person to rush into anything,” he said of his patient approach. “I wanted to think about the process and I studied the show and I fell in love with a lot of the designers and followed their careers and that helped motivate me.”
Weather, 36, began auditioning four seasons ago after watching the fashion competition cable series for 12 seasons.
8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 17, Lifetime.
“I just kept going, and this year I finally got the green light and it felt amazing to go through that process and not get defeated,” he said. “To finally make it (onto the show) was everything.”
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A Chicago native, Weather moved to Seattle at age 19. He worked a variety of jobs over the years, including as a barber in Everett and most recently in a Comcast call center.
Weather comes from a long line of clothes makers, including his great-great-grandmother, who lived to be 105 years old.
“She lived a full life here in Seattle,” he said. “She started recycling material since she was a young girl, making quilts and blankets. My mom’s mom would make my mother’s clothes. They’d see something on TV and wake up the next day and have clothes to go to school in.”
Weather gained an interest in clothing design in high school when he hired a designer to help make his prom outfit.
“She walked me through the journey, made me go to the fabric store and accessory store with her,” he recalled. “That’s when the light bulb came on that this is something I really love and I’d really love to do that myself.”
In 2004, Weather returned to Chicago to help care for an ailing grandmother and in 2009 he graduated from Chicago’s International Academy of Design and Technology, returning to the Seattle area in 2010.
A few years ago Weather worked a seasonal position at the Michael Kors store in Bellevue to get a better idea of the brand in hopes that he might impress Kors if he made it onto “Project Runway” (Kors has since left the series). Weather sewed tents for CAMSS Shelters in Monroe and built furniture for Kaas Tailored Furniture in Mukilteo. For the past five years he’s worked for Comcast while also running his own clothing design business.
For this 16th season of the series, “Project Runway” breaks from conventional modeling tradition with size-inclusive models that range from size 0 to 22. This change proves intimidating to some contestants but Weather said he was not thrown by the twist.
“I’ve always designed for all sizes of women,” he said. “It was great to see them move forward into all sizes because the average woman is a size 12. It sets a great example for everyone and I didn’t have doubts or second guesses about anything.”
Weather describes his design aesthetic as “luxury glam sportswear,” but says his family feels he has a “red carpet eye.”
“I’m from Chicago but I’ve lived so long in Seattle I just kind of merged the two worlds,” Weather said. “Here we’re more relaxed, a little more hipster. Chicago is more dressy. I grew up with my mom and dad who used to go stepping. They’d have this big ball for steppers. My mom wore silver gowns and my dad was suited up.”
Weather’s family affair continues in the Pacific Northwest where his grandmother, Cookie Johnson, was one of the first black salon owners in Everett with Ebony & Ivory Hair Salon. Weather’s wife, Laticia Weather, is admissions director at Toni & Guy Hairdressing Academy in Shoreline, where Weather has done showcases of his design work.
“It all goes together: hair, fashion, music,” Weather said.
Where he’ll be watching the 90-minute “Project Runway” season premiere Thursday night remains up in the air; Laticia is due to give birth any day now.
“I was going to have a huge viewing party but the baby coming into the world is taking over at this point,” Weather said. “I might be watching at home. I might be streaming it at the hospital and watching on demand through our phone.”