Season 17 of Bravo’s reality television series ‘Project Runway‘ premiered in March 2019 and had a total of sixteen designers from different walks of life come together to compete for the coveted title of “the next great American designer.” While the season boosted several remarkable designers with an eye for detail and a penchant for perfection, one of them who managed to stand out with their bold, unapologetic, and unconventional designs is Hester Sunshine.
The runner-up of the season managed to wow the judges and fans by taking risks and putting together out-of-the-box combinations through their unique perception of what they call art. While it’s been years since the show has wrapped up, fans must be wondering about Hester’s whereabouts and what Hester Sunshine is doing currently.
Hester Sunshine’s Project Runway Journey
Hester Sunshine is a designer from Santa Fe, New Mexico, who had dreamt of being part of the show for the longest time. When the then-34-year-old joined the competition, they faced a bit of a rocky start. Hester struggled a little with confidence, especially being unsure of their choice of color and fabrics, and was even partly responsible for their three-member team’s unsuccessful outfits in the second episode. However, as the season progressed, they soon managed to turn the tide in their favor. Hester started upping their game by winning the head-to-toe challenge, earning both high scores and mighty praises from the judges.
Hester earned compliments from the show’s senior judge and critic, Elle magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Nina Garcia, who claimed to have developed a fondness for the designer and their distinctive sense of fashion. Within no time, Hester’s lively presence became synonymous with their designs which showcased their vision and unwavering passion to combine art and punk rock to create their own unique aesthetic appeal.
The finale saw Hecter competing against Sebastian Grey and Garo Sparo for the illustrious prize of being the best designer in the country by impressing guest judge Diane von Fürstenberg, the world-renowned Belgian fashion designer. Hester primarily used three dominant fabrics and mixed and matched them seamlessly, garnering praises from the legend Diane herself, who even went on to offer Hester a chance to work with her! However, despite rave reviews from a panel of judges, who believed Hester possesses the talent and determination to go big, they lost the final hurdle to Sebastian.
Where is Hester Sunshine Now?
Following their exit as a finalist on ‘Project Runway,’ Hester started working on their own personal growth, looking to achieve all that they had set sight on for themself. Hester believes in sustainability and often opts to create clothes that are a reflection of their quirky punk rock personality. They released a high-end clothing line called ‘Hesta’ with Petra Lesser, wherein the brand’s primary focus is to create ‘a high-end, ready-to-wear and custom fashion line that breaks the traditional rules of pattern making and utilitarian apparel design.’
Hester also simultaneously took their new line in their own name Hester Sunshine forward along with starting work on their lower-end line Sunshine By Hester. The star designer also collaborated with Meow Wolf, a well-known Santa Fe-based art and entertainment firm, to create a non-binary clothes collection called MW+HS. While continuing with their professional endeavors, the Jewish designer who has come out as non-binary and identifies as they/them did appear again on Season 20 of ‘Project Runway’, which had an All-Stars format.
About their partaking in the show for another season, the goofy designer, in an interview with ELLE, quipped, “It’s an amazing opportunity for me to explore my creative abilities, and I get to share my new brand HESTA with the world. I also never turn down the chance to test myself against other top-tier artists.” About their approach to the game, they further add, “On season 17, I gained confidence in my capability and identity as a high-fashion designer. Since then, I’ve been perfecting and refining my brand and designs. Going into All-Stars, I can’t wait for everyone to see what I can do.”
Hester actively tries to create gender-neutral clothing that has all-inclusive sizes. They currently reside in Brooklyn, New York, and travel to Santa Fe to look after their parents who stay there. Hecter also has a furry friend in an adorable mini pitbull named Bugzy. On the personal front, they are currently married to Honey Tavassoli, whom they met on the latter’s birthday in 2013 and the couple got married in January 2017 in court. Over the years, the couple’s bond has only gone from strength to strength, and together, they have also started a vintage shop called Tootshop.
Hester is quite active on social media, often posting updates about pop-ups and about the clothes from their fashion line, giving sneak peeks into sizes, prices, and release dates. From the looks of it, Hester is living the life they had envisioned for themself, with their loved ones, and we, along with their fans, couldn’t be happier for them and wish them the best in all their future endeavors.