Instinct Exclusive with ‘Project Runway’ Contestant Venny Etienne

Credit: NBC Universal

Venny Etienne is one of the current crop of designers competing on season 17 of Project Runway.

The Dallas, Texas mainstay has done a pretty solid job so far on the legendary fashion program. He placed in the top of the pack on the first episode and has been consistent over the past two weeks.

There are 12 designers left between him and the crown. Does the luxury sportswear designer have what it takes to win it all in the end and have his life changed forever?

Venny, 31, chatted with us at Instinct about how it feels to still be competing, why Beyoncé is his eternal inspiration, how Karlie Kloss and Christian Siriano (host, judge, respectively) are behind the scenes and much more.

You are still in the competition! How does it feel to have made it this far?

It feels amazing. I relive each moment as I see it on TV.  I’m just internally proud that I’m able to crank out these outfits that way, it’s something I never thought I would be able to do.

PROJECT RUNWAY — Episode 1701 — Pictured: (l-r) — (Photo by: Barbara Nitke/Bravo)

Who do you think is your biggest threat to win it all in the end?

I think my biggest threat thus far is Sebastian (Grey) and Bishme (Cromartie), I was thoroughly impressed with both of their Head to Toe print looks on the 2nd episode so I have my eyes locked in on them two!

Was this the first time you’ve tried out for the show? What inspired you to want to be on Project Runway?

Yes, this was my first time trying out for the show. I’ve been asked before to apply but I just felt I wasn’t ready for that pressure. I mean you have to really think about it. You are secluded from everything you know to inspire you to create and are thrust into this race to the finish with others who are just as good as you. You have to create on the spot and FAST. That’s normally not part of my design process. I normally have a glass of wine, play some music, close my eyes, and let inspiration flow, whether it be through the music or research online, or my travels. So, I was intimidated by the task of designing a look in hours and being critiqued for it.

Where were you when you found out you made it on season 17?

Well I was home when I got the call that I made it on the show. It was late in the evening and I just really thought that maybe I didn’t make it because I haven’t heard from them. I remember texting my sister with huge doubts of the whole thing because I didn’t hear from them. And 5 mins later my phone rang and they told me I made it and I literally just started to burst into tears because I knew from this point on, things in my life will change.

Who has been your biggest fashion inspiration so far in your career?

Beyoncé will forever be my inspiration. Everything she stands for, how she lives her life, and her grace is like none other. She is a beautiful canvas that I would just love to work with one day.

What was it like working with Karlie Kloss and Christian Siriano?

It was amazing! Karlie is a sweetheart, super tall, but it was awesome being in her presence. I remember her from the Victoria Secret fashion shows and all the top runways. Now seeing her as a host, and one of executive producers of the show, it’s all inspiring. And Christian was awesome too. We’re practically the same age and to see how he has flourished since being on the show is a great example that I’d like to follow.

Do you have a favorite ensemble you’ve made thus far?

I’d have to say the Head to Toe Print Challenge (Episode 3) it was our first 1-day challenge and I put a lot of work on that piece and I think it turned out well!

Credit: NBC Universal

What will you do if you win?

Man, if I win, I’d grow my business and operate it on a larger scale. Do things I couldn’t do being that now I’d have the funds to do it. Such as hire key staff, do fashion presentations, and manufacture my garments. Oh, and quit my accounting job. LOL.

More on Venny here.

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