Project Runway's Christopher Straub on new line, MNFashion Week and Owl City

He might have been voted off Project Runway in 2009, but Shakopee native Christopher Straub is a total winner in our book, getting ready to debut 24 looks at the St. Paul Hotel this Sunday in what is sure to be a Fashion Week highlight. We talked to Straub over the phone this week and asked him his thought about fashion in Minnesota. What we got was a very enlightening conversation about just that, but also his being inspired by Owl City and his annoyance with Tweety Bird t-shirts.
What's your favorite thing to see at a fashion show?

I've been to several fashion shows in the Twin Cities for Fashion Week this year and I'll tell you that I as a designer and a lover of fashion, I really like to see fashion shows that aren't just ready to wear. Anyone can put on a show with clothes that looks like you bought them, but it takes a real designer and a real eye to put something down the runway that is unique and is there for the aspect of the fashion show, to broaden your view of fashion and not necessarily anything that's going to walk right out of a retail store. I want to see art, and when I do, I get really excited and I grab my friends and I'm like, "The show has started!"

You like it when the looks are more conceptual?

Yes! The conceptual artistic part of it is the thing that gets your brain going. If I see a pair of shorts and a tank top on a runway, I'm so bored. Some of the designers only show 6 eices and that's not telling your story. And if it is telling your story, you dont have a very good story to tell. At Envision there was this girl Sarah M. Holm, and when her stuff came down the runway, I think she was the second to last to show, I turned to my friend and said, I had to wait 3 hours to get to this! Finally! The show has begun. I had to see her backstage, and I was like, you think like an artist, like a designer. Go further, go further. I just told her how excited I was that she was there because then I felt like it was worth my while because I got to meet her.

Is this going to be something that will translate into your show?

In going back to Sarah, when you see the pieces together you understood the story and the theming: THere were raindrops and umbrellas, and that's the way a designer thinking. Going into my show, the main theme is sky, so there will be elements of birds, wings, feathers, sky scrapers, clouds, and parachutes. Through all the garments you'll be able to pull out a story. I'm kind of known for my unique textural treatments, and the audience will definitely get this from my show. I have 24 looks, it's quite the process. I started working like 5 months ago.


You know on Project Runway where they challenge the designers to go out into the city, pick and object and become inspired? Do designers really design that way?

I find that I get my inspiration from nature and repeated shapes and textures. Speaking personally, that is how I design. I find an element and develop a theme that goes with it, and I think a lot of designers do that. This time. I was inspired by music and normally I'm not. I was inspired by Owl City, they have the song "Fireflies". I was inspired by the whole album, so the music that will be playing during my show is remixed songs from him album.

Any trend going on that you wish would go away right now?

I am not a fan of Crocs as ready to wear. I understand they're an industry thing - chefs like to wear them, OK. I think there's a problem in some parts of the Twin Cities where people don't update their wardrobe. You don't have to buy the trendiest thing, but for god's sakes, don't wear a Tweety shirt! I wouldn't even know where to get one, but they're everywhere and they don't make them in S M L. They make them in plus size but regular sized women are wearing these. If I would wear one, it would be hilarious. But I saw a woman yesterday at the Casino Buffet wearing a hugely oversized Tweety shirt and it said "Tweety Sport" and there's Tweety, wearing a pair of sunglasses and a backwards cap. This is not relevant, Tweety never played a sport.

You've been to a lot of fashion events this week, what has been your take on the whole thing?

I've been to Envision, Voltage and Laura Fulk. I'm excited to do my show too because I want people to put me either in the same group as Fulk or else tell me how to do it better. I don't want to trash Voltage because it's kind of a big deal in the Twin Cities, but I have a short attention span and it's a little lengthy. There's a lot to take in, I almost wish it would be more focused and have two really fantastic bands and several designers walk per band. 

How will you remedy that at your show?

I want mine to be an experience, but you'll spend no more than 25 minutes in your seat. That's the way my show's going to be. Come for a meet and greet and picture taking, you sit down, you watch the show, you network, and we head off to an afterbar. That's a little easier to swallow for a lot of people. I don't even go to movies, I can't sit for that long, it's too much of an investment. People think, "We need to make it 3 hours otherwise people won't come." In NY, a fashion show is 15 minutes. You sit down, there's some sort of introductions, the girls walk, and everyone leaves and talks about it.