Project Runway 5: Meet the Designer - Jerry Tam
Project Runway 5: Meet the Designer - Jerry Tam
Fellow BuddyTV writer Gina Scarpa hit the nail on the head when she wrote in her interview with Project Runway 5 designer Jerry Tam, “On paper, it wouldn't seem like Jerry Tam would be the first contestant to be sent home.”

Last season of Project Runway, the top three designers all came to the show with some impressive credentials. Christian Siriano had experience working for Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen. Jillian Lewis also had some big names on her resume, with experience working Ralph Lauren and a scholarship from CFDA. Rami Kashou already had a successful career, dressing stars like Jessica Alba and Jennifer Lopez.

Jerry might not have made it as far as those three did, but bio wouldn't sound out of place next to theirs. Here's a little more background on the designer we didn't get a chance to know better on the show.
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You might not guess it from the urban and modern aesthetic displayed by Jerry in his Form line, but he actually grew up in Butte, Montana. In a post-show interview, Jerry joked to Blogging Project Runway that his father told him that food, clothing and shelter were the only human necessities. Since his dad already had food covered with a restaurant, and real estate was out, that left fashion as his true career path.

He didn't come to it right away, though, even though he says he had the usual “bright lights, big city” dreams and felt inspired to “chas[e] the luxury.” He took a detour first to California, through a finance degree and a computer management company in Silicon Valley.

Seven years ago, after September 11, 2001, Jerry felt it was time to pursue a different dream. He sold his stake in the company and moved to New York City. He studied at Parsons School of Design, where he earned an Associates Degree in Fashion Design, and the Fashion Institute of Technology, where he became certified in haute couture.

With the strength of his academic credentials, he was able to land a gig at Tara Subkoff's Imitation of Christ. From there, he moved on to work with Patrick Robinson at Perry Ellis. Jerry's experience there appears to have been a transformative one for him. He told Refinery 29, “"[Robinson] taught me what it was like to be a designer, to play that role, to speak eloquently, to like the luxury, and to always understand it's about the craft.” Continuing to work with major names, Jerry's next step was a role as studio manager for Zac Posen.

Now equipped with the industry experience to back up his academic foundation, it was time for Jerry to start his own design career with his line Form. However, while he wanted his own line, he wasn't necessarily looking for it to be a one-man show. He told Surface Magazine in 2006, “It's odd, but the idea of being on my own didn't attract me…I wanted to find other unique and talented people to contribute to the brand.” Jerry recruited other fashion and design industry professionals to take part in his design collective.

Since then, the line has received positive attention. Forbes called Jerry one of “Five Designers to Watch” in 2006. Forbes noted the 2006 show, “included a mixture of textures, silhouettes, draping and geometry not ever seen before on the runway. Architectural elements were in the mix, as well as touches such as metallic mesh hair nets, snake vertebrae earrings, bubble necklaces and kabuki makeup. This is what fashion is meant to be.”

 In a later collection, Form's reinterpretation of the “little black dress” won them a GenArt award in the evening wear category, and most recently, Form won the Best in Class/Design award at the Supima Design Contest for Emerging Talent.

It would appear clear, then, that Jerry and his line have plenty of potential despite his early Project Runway ouster. He's noted that he went on Project Runway in order to gain more attention for his current line, and it wasn't his first time making the rounds on reality television for a little extra spotlight. His line had appeared on Bravo previously on Make Me a Supermodel. Despite this less-positive experience, one could assume that he's probably bounced back from the defeat by thinking back on the sentiment in his own words from 2006: "Hype, celebrity, fame—this is not what this is about, it's about the clothes."


- Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist

Sources: http://bloggingprojectrunway.blogspot.com, www.refinery29.com, Forbes.com, Surface Magazine, JerryTam.com, FormNewYork.com, BravoTV.com, Soma Magazine
(Images from Bravo and JerryTam.com)


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