Project Runway: Meet the Designer - Carmen Webber
It's never a simple formula for success in Project Runway, but season 4 contestant Carmen Webber certainly has a lot of factors working in her favor.

She had an early start in fashion, modeling for trunk shows for DKNY and Anne Klein taking fashion merchandising class, and competing in a regional fashion marketing class all before graduating from high school. She graduated cum laude with a double major in fashion design and illustration. After time in Paris, she moved back to New York to start her own fashion line, Sistahs of Harlem. She and her business partner also co-wrote and published a fashion do-it-yourself book, titled T-Shirt Makeovers: 20 Transformations For Fabulous Fashion.

But it's not just her fashion overachiever resume that might give her a leg-up in the competition; she's also not a novice with reality television.

Carmen appeared on the VH1 series Can't Get a Date. No, she wasn't looking for love; she and her business partner were helping out Mya, one of the dateless, with some fashion advice and an outfit from Sistahs of Harlem.

Sistahs of Harlem have dressed more than the dateless. There is a long roster of celebs who are listed as fans of the line: Alicia Keys, Cody Chestnutt, Jada Pinkett Smith, Common, Iman, Eve, Avril Lavigne, Patricia Field and Missy Elliot.

The main concept behind the clothes in Carmen and her partner's line is “street couture,” described as “a mixture of urban street fashion and high Parisian style.” The looks are inspired by powerful women throughout history, and are often named for those women. For example, the outfit to the left is called the “Georgia O'Keefe,” and the top to the right is called the “Isabel Allende.”

So why, you might be wondering, does Carmen even need to appear on Project Runway? Any small business needs capital, and earlier this year, Sistahs tested their pitch to some venture capital firms to raise $250,000 to fund trade shows and hire a production manager and sales person. So while Carmen clearly has been able to get a successful fashion firm underway, much like season 3 winner Jeffrey Sebelia, the infusion of cash that a Project Runway win would mean could be a big help to her business.

What kind of competitor will Carmen be? As Entertainment Weekly put it, “Big-personality alert.” They made this observation in response to Tim Gunn's assessment of her: ''Let me put it this way — if everyone were Carmen, I would've run for the hills!''

The website for Sistahs of Harlem also shows that Carmen has one other reality TV connection. Check out the model for their fashions in the photo to the right; she will no doubt be a familiar face to fans of another fashion reality show. The first correct guess in the comments wins ten minutes of feeling very pleased with themselves!

- Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist

Sources: Entertainment Weekly,, Sistahs of Harlem, Bravo, BloggingProjectRunway,
(Images: Sistahs of Harlem, Bravo)