'Project Runway' contestant Ben Chmura talks to the Deal Divas: part 2
As promised, here's the second installment of our interview with local fashion designer Ben Chmura. (That's him, front and center, in the sleeveless red shirt.) The 30-year-old is competing on Season 7 of Project Runway, which premieres at 10 p.m. Thursday on Lifetime. Watch it at home or join Chmura at Rawbar Sushi, 777 N Ashley Drive in downtown Tampa, for a free viewing party that starts at 8:30 p.m.
Now here's more of our interview with Chmura. He called the Deal Divas from Seminole Heights, where he shares an incredible clothing and shoe collection with his partner, Bobby Pappadeas.
Are you planning to do Fashion Week Tampa Bay next fall, or is it too early to say?
As of right now, I don’t know. My husband, Bobby, and I have discussed the idea of relocating and going back to New York.
I know, I know. He said the same thing. But I’ve had the opportunity to do Fashion Week Tampa Bay, and it’s a great experience. I would definitely love to be considered for the next one and to be a designer that would be featured for it.
Does Bobby let you dress him?
(laughs) It’s funny because Bobby has an incredible sense of style on his own, and usually when we’re going out, he’ll be like, “Dress me.” I’m like, “I don’t know why you even bother” because every time I try to dress him, he usually has something already in mind. But we share our entire wardrobe, which is nice. Between my sneaker collection and his dressier clothes, we’re able to really change our looks frequently, which is great.
How many pairs of sneakers do you have?
I probably have about maybe 25 pairs of sneakers. It’s not obscene. I usually try and find really unique ones, so I’ll hold off and not buy a pair for two months just to find the perfect ones. I just got a new pair for my birthday in November. They’re these amazing copper metallic high-tops.
Where can we buy your stuff?
As of right now, I’m not selling anywhere. The couple boutiques that I was working with have unfortunately gone out of business. So I’m looking into new venues now, and I’m going to be setting up the Web site hopefully soon. That way I can start posting new work and everything like that. But it will probably be a couple months before anything like that happens. As of right now, I do have old pieces from past collections that are available for sale. They are sample sizes, but if people are interested they can always contact me on Facebook.
If you could dress anyone in Tampa Bay, who would it be?
Ooh, that’s tricky. I don’t think I’d really want to limit it to one person. I would actually love to be able to build a strong clientele here of women who just truly appreciate my work. Those are the women that I want to dress anyway — the ones that like my work and want to support it. Those would be the women that I would love to dress.
Deal Diva Dalia
Photo: Lifetime TV