Throughout Tu Suthiwat Nakchat's childhood, he spent his free time drawing and wrapping cloth around his dolls, creating different styles.
Today, he is dressing professional models in a reality show broadcast around the world as one of 16 finalists on Project Runway Season 11, which premiered in the US last week.
The first and only Thai to have made it on the show hosted by Heidi Klum, Tu confessed that he had been rejected before, twice actually.
"The first two times I sent my application, I didn't even make it through the first round. For the audition this season, I was more determined because I wanted to prove myself," said the 26-year-old designer.
Being involved in such a large-scale production was a dream come true for the Chachoengsao native who moved to the US with his parents when he was 13.
"I've been in the world of fashion for a while now, but to get critiques from such well-established fashion experts is beyond my wildest dreams. Their comments really put my strengths and weaknesses into perspective and give me a lot of ideas," he said.
Tu, who has worked in fashion since graduation, including an internship at Vivienne Tam in New York City, focuses on understated, subtle styles with little details that reflect his passion for culture. Tu hopes to one day launch his own brand, and ultimately have a fashion show to showcase his talents.
Tu said that he is actually a shy and not very confident person, and being on TV scared him in the beginning. Particularly daunting was being surrounded by such famous people as Klum and Nina Garcia.
"I couldn't even imagine myself appearing on TV, but when it actually happened, it was not bad at all. I gained confidence through being in this production, and the most important thing is that I have proved that my passion for fashion is real," said Tu.
After high school, Tu studied the George Mason University sculpture programme, and changed to Parsons The New School For Design to get more serious about fashion. He then flew to Paris to study at The Paris American Academy in France to explore haute couture techniques. He now lives in Springfield, Virginia, with his parents.
_ Napamon Roongwitoo