Meet the Project Funway judges
Meet the celebrity guest and community leaders who will be choosing the winners of this year’s Project Funway design competition
The 11th Annual Project Funway fundraiser for the Education Foundation of Eagle County is taking place this Saturday evening at the Dobson Ice Arena in Lionshead. The runway competition features outfits crafted by 65 local designers of all ages and skill levels, who have each been challenged to create a one-of-a-kind clothing design for the catwalk. The catch: no fabric can be used in the making of these outfits.
This imaginative challenge has inspired hundreds of inimitable looks over the last decade, and every year a changing panel of judges is given the difficult task of deciding which of the wearable works of art will take home awards.
This year, celebrity designer Mondo Guerra is reprising his role as Lead Judge for the fourth time, lending his design expertise to determine the Best in Show among all categories. Guerra was a runner-up on Season 8 of the real “Project Runway” television show, and later won the first season of “Project Runway All Stars.”
Each winner takes home a custom trophy designed by Guerra himself, as well as a Brother Sewing Machine. The top prize is a $1200 machine donated by Brother.
Guerra will be accompanied by five other panelists, all prominent philanthropists and community leaders in the valley.
Lead Judge Mondo Guerra
A fifth-generation Denver local, Guerra was the first “Project Runway” contestant to come out of the state of Colorado.
This is Guerra’s fourth time as a guest judge for the Project Funway event. Guerra said that in both of his competitive seasons on “Project Runway”, he was challenged to make a no-fabric outfit – first, using only materials from a party store, and the second time using only materials from a dollar store.
Having participated in this type of competition at the highest level, Guerra knows what he is looking for when he awards the grand prize.
“I think it’s really important for contestants to manipulate the material to a point where it doesn’t look like it used to be,” Guerra said. “I also give credit for creativity. I definitely am a stickler on execution, always look for that, but if it’s a really good idea I kind of let the execution go because the creativity is very strong.”
Colin Meiring is the artistic director and choreographer for the Vail Valley Academy of Dance, and this will be his first time on the judging panel. A long-time fan and spectator of the event, Meiring wanted to get more involved in the cause because he has seen the impact that the Education Foundation of Eagle County (EFEC) is having first-hand.
“I’ve definitely seen the invaluable impact on the front lines of performing arts students who are boldly expressing who and what they are,” Meiring said. “I think this is a direct result of EFEC ensuring that every Eagle County School is staffed with a behavioral counselor. Judging is a way of giving back to my community and continuing to inspire youth to be the best they can be.”
As a youth educator and motivator, Meiring is most excited to judge the Youth and Teen categories, and to see how the students channel their imaginations into their clothes.
Amanda Precourt is a local real estate developer, interior designer and contemporary art collector. In past Project Funways, she could be found on the runway modeling creations by local architect Karl Krueger. When asked to be a judge this year, she didn’t hesitate.
“I accepted knowing that my involvement would not only be creatively engaging, but most importantly will help EFEC to raise important funds needed to serve our community,” Precourt said. “Nothing compares to a solid education in terms of providing lifelong opportunities for children to become smart, motivated, and contributing adult members of their community.”
An artist and fashion enthusiast herself, Precourt will be looking for outfits that resonate with her fondness for bold, cutting-edge styles.
Gina Browning and Joe Illick
Married couple Browning and Illick have spent the last three Project Funways crafting and modeling their own outfits, but this year they are swapping out duct tape and super glue for a seat at the judge’s table.
The two had their very first win last year at the virtual 2021 event, taking home third place for an elaborate duct tape creation.
“There are lots of people who enter Project Funway who are very skilled, and they bring that high level of expertise making clothing – we obviously represent the other end of the spectrum,” Illick said with a laugh. “It’s just a sheerly creative, exuberant effort for the two of us.”
Elaine Kelton has been a member of the Vail community since before the town was incorporated. Kelton moved to the valley in 1964, and she has been a positive force in the valley’s growth at every step along the way.
Her list of philanthropic contributions in our community is extensive, and include her positions as a founding member of Jack’s Place, the cancer caring house in Edwards, member of the Colorado Mountain College Foundation Board, director emeritus of the Vail Valley Foundation, and more.
Kelton said the Project Funway event is always one of her favorites, and she looks forward to seeing the creativity that emerges from everyday members of our community.
“I mean, that you can take Dobson Ice Arena, kit it out so that it looks like LA or NY or wherever, with a runway show of clothing that you would buy, and it’s made from bottle tops or rubber tires or Kleenex, is absolutely amazing to me,” Kelton said. “And the creativity that it has brought to the fore in this valley, whether you’re 11 years old or 80 years old, it’s thunderstrikingly fun.”