Project Runway 5
wasn't always, obviously, always called Suede. He was born Stephen Whitney Baum near Cleveland, OH, to an engineer dad and physicist mom.
Fashion wasn't always first on Suede's list either. While he says he was always called to the Big Apple, Suede's original plan to hit the big time was to work as an actor. But as we saw on Project Runway 5
, fabric soon became his moniker and his calling. Let's take a look back at the recently auf'd designer.
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Suede says his parents were “progressive” and “forward-thinking.” He attended an Amish school, where “[c]olor is not a big part of our wardrobe and being a minimalist was part of that lifestyle. This allowed me to really develop my creativity.”
His creativity, as mentioned, was first focused on performing, and his intentions were to move to New York City upon graduation from high school. His parents, however, had other ideas, wanting him to stick closer to home.
He enrolled in Kent State School of Fashion Design and Merchandising. He said, "I applied to design school not knowing what to expect," Suede said. "I ended up loving it … I am a very creative person. It was a great way to express myself."
Suede spent a summer in Paris with Parsons, but his overall experience with Kent State seems to have been an important and formative one and he appears to still love to give back to his school. He's created an endowment scholarship that annually rewards one senior fashion student with $1000. He's the first fashion graduate to do that, and he's also the first fashion and the youngest graduate ever to return to deliver a keynote commencement speech at the school.
School wasn't just where Suede found his calling, it was also where he found what he now calls himself. The nickname Suede came about during his junior year. During the stress of final projects, he and some classmates assigned each other nicknames from fabric swatches pulled randomly. It was intended just for the day, but, Suede says, "The name just kind of stuck," Suede said. "So all those people who think I just created it for the show are wrong."
People have also wondered if his third-person shtick was just that: a shtick created for the show. Not so, Suede has said, saying he does it “[b]ecause it's FUN! I think we all speak in third person occasionally…Suede speaks in third person when he is really excited or passionate about something. Really anything can bring out my third person commentary. I have always been a very eccentric guy and let's face it, the fashion industry is a great place to be who you are.”
And Suede being who Suede is has already gotten him much success in the sportswear end of the fashion industry. He's been an intern at Geoffrey Beene, a creative director at Lee Jeans and held other roles at Fubu, Roc-a-wear, Jordache Vintage, Todd Oldham Jeans, and Polo Jeans Company.
As for the future with Suede, he told Entertainment Weekly that he was recently working on charity event for children with AIDS with Ashley Judd. He's also said to be launching a high-end men's denim line tentatively called Stellar III.
And, as he told BuddyTV's own Gina Scarpa, he might have left Project Runway
without the ultimate win, but he left the musical genre challenge with some great advice that he can use moving forward. He told us, “Something really interesting is the minute I got out of filming I was asked to dress an artist for Beadstock at Jones Beach, and this was a woman, her name is Amouka, and I did and I remembered the things the judges said and I made sure that everything was a little bit more fancy, a little bit more over the top, and I really worked it out. I learned from it and it was a great learning experience.”
- Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
(Images courtesy of BravoTV)