Five-Minute Pow-Wow: Project Runway’s Ben Chmura

On Saturday, designer and Project Runway alum Ben Chmura made his StyleWeek Providence debut, showcasing his NIBIRU (and self-proclaimed comeback) collection. We were there to see his sci-fi inspired/contemporary streetwear designs come down the runway, and met up with him post-show to talk the future of fashion and Project Runway’s all-star season.

Rue La La: We were blown away with these designs. Tell us about the inspiration for this line.
Ben: The whole idea comes from a novel called The 12th Planet and its theories about how alien civilizations came to earth and helped man evolve through the dark ages. While they’re here, they’re re-creating streetwear and trying to understand how humans dress and behave.

Rue La La: Part of your futuristic approach is the idea of unisex clothing. Can you tell us more about that?
Ben: There are a few pieces in the collection that are gender-benders. I’m playing with a lot of exaggerated proportions so they could go female or male. I wanted to put more streetwear out there that would blur the lines – I really think it’s the future of fashion.

Rue La La: From start to finish, how long does a line like this take to put together?
Ben: This one took me nine months, which is a long time, but this is kind of like my comeback, so I really wanted to develop it and be smart about it.

Rue La La: How do you see your label evolving over the next five years?
Ben: I’m definitely looking into stores like Oak and Alter where they have a bit of an edge to them. In five or ten years’ time, I’d love to be in Bergdorf [Goodman] and Barneys. Basically I’m looking to be the next Alexander Wang – I want to put out some really cool, über chic clothing for men and women to enjoy.

Rue La La: As a Project Runway alum, do you still watch the show?
Ben: I’ve kind of been slacking to be honest. Now that I’m back in New York, I don’t have cable but I pay attention through Facebook and blogs.

Rue La La: Who are you rooting for this season?
Ben: I would honestly love to see Mila [Hermanovski] put her style out there again and make it as far as she did last time, if not win. I have a huge affinity for retro, futuristic things, and I think her absence of color is brilliant. But it’s anyone’s game really – they’re all stars.

[Editor's note: Mila has since been eliminated from Project Runway]

January 31, 2012