Lenon Wakauwa 
27, Invercargill

Imagination—thinking about what to create then designing it—is Lenon’s strongest trait as a fashion designer.

Lenon wants to encourage the younger generation to embrace their uniqueness and what defines them as individuals. Being a passionate advocate for the transgender and gender fluid community, Lenon doesn’t like being defined by gender, believing it only limits people’s creative minds. When being set a challenge, Lenon likes to take time to create something that is going to wow audiences. With Project Runway, there is always a time crunch—so creating something within a set time is going to be this designer’s biggest hurdle to overcome.

Why did you apply for Project Runway?

I am passionate about fashion and being featured in Project Runway would be the most wonderful opportunity to get noticed as a fashion designer among many other talents.

What made you want to become a designer?

Being gender fluid, I found that there was a real lack of clothing choices for people like myself. Nothing quite fit, it was either his or hers, but there was no middle ground. I am a very feminine and flamboyant person, so I found myself creating my own designs to suit my needs.

How would you describe your personal style and your design aesthetic?

My personal style is androgynous and gender fluid with a touch wearable avant-garde. All my creations borrow feminine characteristics, whether that be the way I incorporate lines, shape and form, or colour and texture. I am also hugely inspired by the Victorian Era and my African heritage, and find these influences appearing in my work from time-to-time.

Who are your fashion icons?

Both local and abroad, my fashion icons are Alexandra Mc Queen, Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, Galiano and WORLD.

What was the first garment you ever made?

It was a dress I created for the Hokonui Fashion Awards in 2010. Inspired by the African culture, the garment was made of brown satin crepe, stretchy velvet leopard print and finished with beads and a halter neck braiding.