Girl Talk: My Gab Session with Project Runway’s Mondo Guerra

The Project Runway All Stars winner is coming to Philly Thursday to host an event with Dining Out for Life.

On Valentine’s Day, Project Runway All Stars winner Mondo Guerra is coming to Philly to host a mix-and-mingle in support of ActionAIDS’ Dining Out For Life, a group he’s been involved with since his emotional revelation on national TV that he was HIV-positive. This week, he gave me a ring from New York, where he is in town for Fashion Week, and we had a nice chat about his involvement with the organization. I found him to be a refreshingly down-to-earth, kind-hearted guy — nowhere near as sassy as he looks in that photo to the right. He was even open to answering some of my more-probing questions about life post-Project Runway, including what he and Jay McCarroll will be doing when he’s in Philly and why he still has beef with Michael Kors.

G Philly: Are you excited to come to Philly for this event?
Mondo Guerra: I’m so excited. I hear it’s going to be “Mondo-centric.” I’m a little vain, so of course I’m excited about seeing myself all over the place. (laughs).

GP: How did you get involved with Dining Out For Life?
MG: This is my first year with the fundraiser. I’ve always participated in the event by going to a restaurant in my community … so when they approached me and asked if I wanted to participate as a spokesperson, I thought it was a perfect fit.

GP: On Project Runway season 8, you revealed that you were HIV positive. Is that one of the best decisions you’ve ever made?
MG: Oh my God, it changed my life. I can’t even tell you how much the secret was destroying me — not only as an individual, but as a creative person. I lost sight of so many goals because I couldn’t talk about it. So when I talked about it, I felt reborn again. It has triggered so many beautiful relationships, and so many that I’ve been pushing away for so many years, including my mom and my dad. It’s a brand new life. It really is.

GP: You didn’t win that season, but you went on to win All Stars soon after. How has your life changed since then?
MG: Now I’m getting a consistent, steady amount of work and I enjoy it. The best thing is that there are projects that I can say no to. I can choose my projects now.

GP: What are you working on?
MG: I had the opportunity to design a collection for Neiman Marcus, which comes out in 2013. I also have a line of eyewear coming out this summer at seeeyewear.com. I’m really excited about that, because: (a) I wear glasses, and (b) I’m going to have an arsenal of really dope frames.

GP: Who are some of the neatest celebs you’ve gotten to know since you won?
MG: Obviously, I know Heidi and Tim, and Nina is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. I know she gets a bad rap because she’s so brutally honest about what she likes and doesn’t like, but she’s so cool. Other than that … I don’t know. I’m not really starstruck. I don’t think about people that are in the public eye as “celebrities.” I meet people and that’s that.

GP: You didn’t mention Michael Kors. You don’t like him?
MG: I didn’t say that! (laughs) I don’t think Michael and I have had an opportunity to talk. [After I lost season 8],  I saw Nina at a party and she came up and explained what her thinking was. She said she was sorry it didn’t work out, and I really respected that. I think there’s a little bit of tension still between Michael and I, because I haven’t had the opportunity to talk to him.

GP: Let’s talk about what you’ll be doing in Philly. Have you been here before?
MG: Oh my God, I love Philadelphia. It’s so cute. It’s kind of like New York, but it’s quieter. It’s a little smaller. I feel like it’s a little bit more loved to tell you the truth.

GP: I saw you in a photo with Jay McCarroll during Fashion Week. Will you guys hang out when you’re in Philly?
MG: I love Jay. Every time I’m in Philly I always make it a point to see him and his partner.

GP: Will he take you out on the town?
MG: You know what, Jay has his agenda. I just say come pick me up and we go. I don’t know where he takes me. Of course we’re going to hit up the gay bars.

GP: I can’t let you go without talking a little fashion. G Philly’s Spring Style Issue is coming out in March. What are some of your tips on what we should buy for spring?
MG: Sloppy silhouettes are in — kind of loose-fitted, shapeless silhouettes. It’s going to be major.

GP: What about colors?
MG: I think color comes down to personality, so whatever you feel comfortable in. If you’re a victim of wearing black or neutrals all the time, you should change it up and do something unexpected.

Fashion in Action takes place Thu., Feb. 14 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Palomar Hotel. Dining Out for Life takes place in Philadelphia on Thu., April 25.

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