There was a moment when it looked like Chris Russo, 17, from Calverton, might actually have won “Project Runway Junior” — but, alas, he came in runner-up on the conclusion of the 10-episode season that aired Thursday night, Feb. 23, on the Lifetime cable TV network.
“I’m just thrilled to be second place. I like the color silver. I’m not a big fan of gold,” he joked after the judges’ decision, which was based on a fashion show that featured the four remaining contestants’ six-piece collections. Russo told the judges that his collection was inspired by “my home state of New York.”
Russo watched the finale last night with family members on Long Island — it had been filmed in advance in Los Angeles. “I think my favorite part was getting to meet all the people I did,” Russo said in a telephone interview Thursday about the whole experience.
“Project Runway Junior” pitted 13- to 18-year-old young fashion designers against one another. Another Long Island contestant, A’kai Littlejohn 14, of Hauppauge, was eliminated earlier in the season.
The winner — Chelsea from California — was awarded a college scholarship to the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in California, $25,000 to produce her line and more. But Russo says it’s OK with him that he lost out on that — he has applied to the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan. “It’s my dream school for, like, forever,” he says. The second place winner doesn’t get any prize, Russo says.
Since the show has been airing, Russo says he’s had fun being recognized. This past weekend he had a visit from fellow contestant Izzy, who is from Michigan. “I went to the city with Izzy, and eight people saw us and recognized us,” Russo says. Back on Long Island, at the Cheesecake Factory at SmithHaven Mall, “We got free cheesecake because they knew who we were.”
“I’m really happy it’s done,” Russo says of the show airing. He had to keep everything secret until the finale. “It’s been, I don’t want to say exhausting, but exhausting,” he says.