Starring on the first ever New Zealand version of international smash hit Project Runway, Benjamin Alexander’s serious dedication to the world of fashion was evident right from the start.
Calm and thoughtful with a self-assuredness that carried him through the competition to emerge as eventual winner made for some great TV. We caught up with Benjamin Alexander ahead of his much-anticipated show at NZFW this year to talk inspiration, sustainability and mind control.
Firstly, congratulations on winning Project Runway. How did it feel to be crowned the winner?
Thank you. I was so honoured and humbled that throughout the competition, the judges recognised my skill and believed in what I was doing and had to say. Winning the show meant that I could pursue my career and is what has allowed me to build the brand and the coming show.
Whilst you were on the show your model seemed to almost become your muse. Do you draw inspiration from your models or from a particular person?
I never know how to explain where inspiration comes from. It’s usually a random idea that comes to mind, most likely derived from an experience or person I have met.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to since the show aired?
Since the show, I have been building the business and putting plans in place for moving forward as well as planning for Fashion Week. I have also been working for the incredible Sally-Ann Mullin at Bauer Media as the stylist for their premium titles.
You've enjoyed great success but how did you initially get your label off the ground?
Hard work and undeniable dedication.
When did your love affair with fashion begin?
Since I was born I guess. It’s innate. I can’t remember not being in love with clothes.
You showed at Fashion Week last year, but this will be your first debut solo NZFW Show—what can we expect?
I’m really excited about this show because it’s far from what I thought I would have done for my first show. It’s going to be very small and beautifully intimate.
Can you talk us through your creative process when planning a show?
It’s a chain reaction really. I think of a very small detail and start building towards the bigger picture. For instance, we found the venue for this show and it defined the rest of the decision making from then.
NZFW is focusing on sustainability this year. What are the sustainability initiatives that most resonate with you?
Consideration and respect are the biggest things for us. We create clothes that don’t jeopardise the ability for those in the process, or for the environment, and to be valued within themselves and their community. Since day one and coming from a sustainable masters programme, the idea of sustainability hasn’t been something we have had to consider or incorporate into the brand because it’s always been a massive part of who we are and how we operate.
Who’s been your biggest influence in your life?
What does an average day look like for you?
Depends on the day really, but a lot of emails and driving around.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
You must whole heartedly love what you do and be undeniably yourself. I know it’s cliché, but you’ve just got to hustle and work bloody hard.
Early bird or Night Owl?
I get up early and work late so I guess both.
Your favourite café to visit the morning after?
If you had a super power, what would it be?
What was the best movie/series/book/gig you’ve enjoyed lately?
I saw Florence And The Machine not too long ago which was amazing. She’s such an angel.
Best city in the world?
Florence or Copenhagen.