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Above, watch the submission video for the 2018 OUT Fashion Vanguard Awards from designer Grayling Purnell.
The 3rd Annual OUT Fashion Vanguard Awards, presented by Lexus, is our search for the next talented designer on the cutting edge of fashion. Three of the fashion industry's top emerging design talent will vie to win a six-week mentorship to design a capsule collection for Parke & Ronen, be featured in an upcoming issue of OUT, and be named the 2018 OUT Fashion Vanguard.
Los Angeles-based designer Grayling Purnell..... We caught up with Grayling as he was building his collection to debut this Wednesday night at the 2018 OUT Fashion Vanguard Awards in New York City.
OUT: Congrats on being picked as one of just three designer finalists! How does it feel to compete for the title of the 2018 OUT Fashion Vanguard?
Grayling Purnell: Competing for the OUT Fashion Vanguard feels like a dream come true. I'm excited to have this chance to showcase my designs to my you all.
Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you find your voice as a designer?
I've been designing almost all of my life, but I just learned how to sew three-and-a-half years ago. I went to school at Parsons School of Design and FIT in New York. At school I learned to push myself to new limits, and my brand has benefited tremendously from my doing so.
Without giving too much away, what can we expect from your collection when it hits the runway?
You can expect my collection for this competition to amaze the audience.
Part of your design challenge is to take inspiration from our presenting sponsor, Lexus, in particular the uncompromising Lexus LC and the visionary Lexus LS. Can you give us a preview of how your collection will integrate the bold, thoughtful, and imaginative principles that Lexus uses to create amazing luxury vehicles?
For my garments, I used neoprene to resemble the structure of the Lexus carseats. I also was inspired by the grille of the Lexus LC for my fabric choices.
We find that sometimes the most vibrant and cutting edge designs come from LGBTQ designers. How has your identity as a member of this community influenced your work?
As a gay male, I am able to design for both women and men by imagining myself as both. This means when I create garments for women, I design what I would wear if I was a woman. Because I identify as gay, I'm able to channel my feminine sides, and it shows in my womenswear garments. For my menswear designs, I am able to change my look to whatever I am feeling at the time through my designs process.
Is there anything else you would like us or our readers to know before you debut your collection at the 2018 OUT Fashion Vanguard Awards event on July 25?
I sew, I create my own patterns, I sketch, and I drape. I do everything on my own, with no sponsors, no PR, and no management. I learned how to to sew three-and-a-half years ago at the age of 31. When I attended school, a few teachers told me I was too advanced in my career to learn how to sew, and I should just pay people to sew for me. Well that didn't stop me at all!
The moment I learned how to sew, my life changed drastically. I created three collections in one year. I feel I have a reason to live. The best feeling in the world to me is when I go to sleep, I dream of a design, and I wake up to sketch and create that garment. So I just want you all to be inspired by my next collection. It represents empowerment, strength, love and dedication.
Also, remember when you are on your journey in life, people are going to put you down, make you feel bad and try to do whatever they can to throw you off your path. You must rise above that and channel that energy into something positive. I'm living proof that if you work hard, have faith, and you are consistent, you can live your dreams!