Interview: Coral Castillo continues to push her fashion forward

PROJECT RUNWAY -- "Finale" Episode 1914 -- Pictured: (l-r) Christian Siriano, Coral Castillo -- (Photo by: Greg Endries/Bravo)
PROJECT RUNWAY -- "Finale" Episode 1914 -- Pictured: (l-r) Christian Siriano, Coral Castillo -- (Photo by: Greg Endries/Bravo) /

As the only Project Runway fashion designer who did not win a challenge, Coral Castillo earned a new distinction in the last episode of Season 19. While her design aesthetic combined both a modern approach and a nod to her Mexican culture, each look captivated the audience and even had some on their feet. Although the fashion title was not in the cards, Coral did earn her win.

Since Coral had the distinction of not winning a challenge during Project Runway Season 19, Culturess would have been remiss if the question wasn’t asked. Coral said, “I do think not winning a challenge pushed me to do more for the finale. I knew I needed to give my all in this collection.”

And, she did give it her all. From the intricate macrame to her nod to her culture, each look gave a glimpse into her world. More importantly, it left people wanting more.

When asked about her choice to connect her collection to her culture, Coral said, “I think it is very important not to forget where we come from. My son wanted to meet his grandfather in 2019. We decided to go visit my dad after 23 years of not seeing him. I really forgot how beautiful Mexico City is. While in Mexico my Dad took us to a lot of cultural places; Bellas Artes, Castillo de Chapultepec, Museo de Antropologia and Teotihuacan. I fell in love with everything! While walking in the streets I saw indigenous women doing embroideries and it was beautiful. I knew I wanted to incorporate those embroideries in my collection. There are so many artisan makers in Mexico that live in poverty, and I wanted to take this opportunity and any I can, to showcase the beauty of it. All the embroideries I used were handmade and bought directly from indigenous people. I used Otomi embroideries and if you ever buy this art please do it directly from the indigenous people in Mexico.”

While many of these fashion pieces have a personal connection for her, Coral created pieces that could be stapled pieces in many women’s closets. When asked, the fashion designer said, “I think my jackets could be a staple look for everyone. My jackets can be combined with different outfits and used on different occasions, even across genders (from the feedback I’ve been receiving). They are versatile pieces that you can wear in different ways.”

Although many Project Runway fans will look in amazement at those finale designs, the recognition from her peers seemed to be a poignant end to her experience. Having received a standing ovation from her fellow designers, Coral was both humble and proud.

Specifically, Coral said, “When I was walking with that standing ovation from my peers, I felt I was walking on clouds. I never thought my work could make that kind of a connection with those who understand fashion. That means the world to me and that made me feel like a winner.”

Even though she did not have a crowning achievement moment on Project Runway, Coral said that she was proud of all of her looks. But, one was her favorite.

Coral said, “If I had to choose one I’m most proud of, it would be my editorial look because it was my first time using yellow color, which I don’t think I would have used if it wasn’t for the pressure I felt from being noticed by the judges. I wanted a color that screamed ‘look at me’. “

While she loved that look, she would like a second chance on the Comfy-Chic. Coral said, “I was confused because they gave us as reference a look that could be in the window of Bergdorf and I remembered a video zoom with my friends during the pandemic saying that they were dying to wear sequins all over sequins, even if it was to stay at home.”

Now that the Project Runway competition has ended, the future holds many possibilities for Coral. She hopes “to do collaborations with other designers and am open to opportunities.”

And, in the meantime, her brand is taking off. She said, “I’ve been thinking of producing a few staple pieces and having them for sale. Right now, I’m still working on orders by request through my website”

Next. Interview: Zayden Skipper appreciates that standing out takes confidence. dark

Project Runway Season 19 has ended but episodes can be streamed on Peacock.