Designer Rafael Cox, owner of Rafael by Rafael Cox Clothing Line and Project Runway Season 9 Contestant, answers a few questions as a prelude to his live chat session tomorrow at 8pm EDT on the AIU Facebook page. During the interview, Cox’s vibrant personality transformed the session into an exciting conversation sharing insight on his thoughts and emotions regarding his time on Project Runway and his life as a fashion designer. Truly a sincere and ambitious soul, Cox notes that both his education and experience at AIU played a role in gaining the knowledge required for his craft.
Q: Who inspires you?
A: Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell.
Q: What would you say is a phrase you live by?
A: Presentation is the end of all ends. First impressions are lasting impressions. Within a fashion and visual industry, eyes see first.
Q: How did you become interested in fashion design?
A: I have always been very interested in matching my clothes for my own personal look. I actually started out at a different university as a history education major, but I realized that wasn’t for me.
Q: When did you realize that history education was not your calling?
A: Well, I was always late for my observations and after one of the students asked me, “How do you come up with these concoctions?,” referring to my attire, one of the teachers told me I was becoming a distraction.
Q: How did that teacher’s comment make you feel?
A: It really bothered me, but it helped me realize that fashion is where I needed to be.
Q: So you decided to take your concoctions and your talent elsewhere to AIU. How did you make that decision?
A: (chuckles) I saw the commercial and then I enrolled. And I’m happy I did because it was very fun. There are great teachers who have the experience to teach and guide you through the entire experience.
Q: How did AIU help prepare you for your career in the fashion industry?
A: If it wasn’t for AIU, I wouldn’t know how to sew.
Q: How did you decide to try out for Project Runway?
A: I tuned in to all 8 seasons and I told myself I was going to try out, but it was important for me to perfect my craft first. And once I knew I was ready, I went for it and I got it. So many people try out multiple times and never make the show. I only tried out once, and I made it.
Q: What was the audition process like?
A: Well, honestly, I sent in all the information late. It arrived after the deadline and it was incomplete, so the casting people called me for more information (laughing). I had to send in my portfolio for the semifinals, and then I met casting for a live video. After that it was like I was on ice until I got the call.
Q: Tell us about the call.
A: It was a DEFINITE YES. I got home on Sunday and they called me on Monday.
Q: What should individuals keep in mind when trying out for Project Runway?
A: Remember that this is a TV show. So it’s not just about talent.
It’s about how well you mesh with other contestants too.
Q: So you make the show. You meet the cast and the judges. Now it’s time to perform. How intense is it?
A: Very intense. When you are designing at home you can have a snack, watch a movie and then finish the piece whenever you want. But on the show there are so many different emotions. I mean you are comparing yourself to other designers and driving yourself crazy.
Q: And are there any regrets? You were the first to get eliminated.
A: No regrets. I went home first, but you have to remember I’m on a show that 800 to 1,000 people tried out for. Making it to the show says a lot about my talent. The show is about competing, so you are getting challenges to catch you up. I had an opportunity to showcase my talent to the world. Now I am getting emails from Pakistan and India. I mean I am getting so much press from US weekly and other blogs. I’m even going to do Kentucky Fashion Week.
Q: And your biggest lessons?
A: To always remember who I am and what I stand for, to be proud, and to continue to learn and love myself.
Join Rafael Cox for a live chat on the AIU Facebook page Tuesday, October 11th, at 8pm EDT.