Posted by Rob Van Brunt on 4/3/2017

LI Academy Fashion Student to Appear on "Project Runway Junior"

 Career and Tech Ed Program Helps Him Hone His Craft




 Chris Russo





He started by sewing pillows and never looked back. Seventeen-year-old Christopher Russo, Fashion Merchandising student at the Long Island Academy of Applied Technology, will appear on this season’s Project Runway: Junior, which debuts on Thursday, December 22, on Lifetime Network. The aspiring design impresario will compete against 11 other teens to create fashions in an elimination-style series with celebrity judges (Kelly Osbourne, Christian Siriano) for a scholarship to Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. The Long Island Academy of Applied Technology is the Career and Technical Education branch of Eastern Suffolk BOCES. Christopher attends the Fashion Merchandising Program, located at the Gary D. Bixhorn Technical Center in Bellport, for a half-day where he fine tunes his sketching and garment construction skills.


Project Runway Junior Graphic


Christopher, a Calverton resident and senior at Riverhead High School, completed an online application that led to an in-person audition and won a spot on the second season of the show, which filmed this past summer. He summed up his experience this way: “It was the best and worst time I’ve ever had in my life. I’d go from the most extreme up, to the lowest of lows ever, in the course of an hour. It was exhausting, and exciting, and exhilarating.”



Christopher got his start in a seventh-grade home economics class where he learned to sew a straight stich using a sewing machine. He then spent the next six months making pillows. “Every house was filled with pillows,” he said. “There were pillows for every occasion; Halloween pillows, Christmas pillows, way too many.” Christopher’s grandmother, who helped to nurture his talent, suggested that he instead begin making clothes.  “That was the next step organically,” he explained. His aunt, another enormous influence, owns works at a New York-based womenswear design company whose fashions are sold around the country. Christopher has interned there learning many aspects of the business.


Even though he is self-taught and starred on the show before he ever set foot in the Academy’s fashion classroom, Christopher is a fan of the program. “It’s been really great to learn how clothes are actually made,” he said, citing an example of the necessity to line scratchy material. Christopher can’t say anything about the outcome of the show or if he won the scholarship, but affirms that he is college-bound after high school and plans to continue his fashion studies. “I want to learn how to sketch and design better. I don’t know if I want my own business. I want to see where everything takes me,” he said. One thing he is sure of – his desire to one day have his own boutique within Macy’s where he will feature his designs for men, women, children, and of course, pillows.