By: Natalie Saar

 

Few artists get to see their creations brought to life quite like fashion designers get to. And one
of the biggest thrills is when they get to show the designs off on a runway. That’s the dream that
Venny Etienne is living right now as a contestant on Project Runway.


“It all started in Brooklyn, NY where I was born and raised by Haitian parents. I went to church
every Sunday and the young kids at our church decided to throw fashion shows. I mean we did
not grow up with much nor were things handed to us so we did with what we had,” Venny
explains. “Most of us couldn’t afford the luxurious things we saw on the runway so we decided
to do our own with the approval of the elders in the church. From there I believe the passion for
fashion was born.”


Venny initially pursued an education in investment banking because “I just knew it made a lot of
money and I like money. But I had no passion in any of my classes. So I dropped out.” Deciding
to do what he’d always loved, the designer found Wade College in Dallas, TX to be his best
option. “I just continued to network myself through the Dallas fashion scene and they’ve
welcomed this little Brooklyn boy with open arms and really nurtured me. Networking was key
for me and developing great relationships with people in the industry. So pairing that with hard
work and an eye for great taste I believe that is what got me where I am today.”

 


All of that hard work is being put to the test currently on Project Runway. “I have to say the show
definitely allowed me to think on my feet. You don’t have the leisure of time! The stress level is
super high, being put on the spot [and being told] you have to do this right now! Whereas in real
life I have the luxury to think things through and really channel through with my inspiration.
“But with that being said, I needed that pressure as a designer because now I’m able to channel
that same energy as I design now. And also the advice that I received from our mentor and
judges I think are priceless. People spend money or a lot of effort to reach people like this in the
fashion industry and here I have them right in front of me to receive guidance and assistance
that can help me as a designer and a businessman.”


The line LeVenity consists of sportswear, which may not be what it sounds like. “The term
Sportswear gets confused a lot with athletic wear, which is more geared towards ‘sports.’
However, a simple explanation of the term sportswear is article of clothing that involves
separates. That can be skirts, trousers, jackets, coats, vests, blouses, etc and I love creating
these kinds of garments.”


With that said, Venny can design just about anything that’s asked of him. “I have created
everything from menswear to evening wear to bridal wear.” And his inspiration is drawn from
everywhere. “I generally am moved by various culture, music, my family, and most importantly
the streets. I love people watching and seeing how they move and how they put together a
garment.” Shingo Sato is another source of Venny’s inspiration. “Shingo Sato changed my
perspective of constructing a garment early on in my design journey.”

A few parting words from the designer: “Listen, this is not an easy career to choose but what will
ALWAYS be your driving force is your passion and love for what you are doing. Creating,
speaking your voice and point of view thru fabrics and silhouette. Success is not an overnight
process and it takes 10x more hard work than you think. But when you see the finished product
it makes it all feel worth it. Do it because you love it and do it because it fulfills you. And do it
with a smile. That helps.”


Don’t forget to catch Venny on Project Runway, which airs Thursdays on BRAVO at 8pm and
check out his line LeVenity.