“Project Runway” star Tessa Clark to debut in new reality TV series set in Cincinnati

After appearing as a contestant on season 17 of Project Runway, it might seem that local fashion designer Tessa Clark’s career has reached its peak. Not so, as the young OTR shop manager is always striving for next-level challenges and honest, hard-earned rewards.

Clark is now set to appear on a new and unique reality TV series that showcases fashion designers across the country. The first episodes will take place in Cincinnati.

Clark explains that she connected with reality TV fashion designer and producer Amy Bond when Bond stumbled into her shop, Idlewild Woman, while in town working with a group of young, local models and actors.

The two women connected, and Bond soon contacted Clark to gauge her interest in a new reality TV concept. (Bond’s previous productions include Netflix’s Next In Fashion.) Clark was more than just interested in the opportunity — she was ecstatic.

Aptly named, The Collective will bring together a select group of 15 celebrity designers in a distinctive, non-competitive format — with a focus unity and diversity rather than rivalry.

“What’s really great is that all of the designers have such different aesthetics,” says Clark. “Some are more street wear, some are more formal, some focus just on plus size, some do men’s. I’m just so excited to be sharing the runway with a lot of these designers from fashion shows that have been on television that I’ve admired for years!”

Live-streamed episodes will present viewers with all of the design and production details, backstage drama, and runway glory of fashion shows — without the battle to be the best. The goal will instead be to build collective energy in smaller cities across the nation.

“The initial episode is about the designers emerging out of the isolation of 2020, coming together to showcase their designs, and meet fans via live events streamed across the globe,” says Bond, who will co-host the show. Other big name co-hosts include celebrity stylist Ty Hunter and Cincinnati-based fashion model Laura Kirkpatrick-Cianciolo.

“It’s a very new concept — the first of its kind. It’s about what goes into designing a collection, and the fashion production show as a whole,” says Clark. “Each designer is working from their own home studio on making this 15-look collection. We will be sharing what we’re working on through social media, Instagram primarily, by posting weekly video diaries.”

The live-streamed portions of the show will require a ten-dollar ticket purchase. Clark encourages watch parties when safe and possible for the seven, final live-streamed events.

“The culmination of all the designers meeting for the first time as The Collective and putting on this show in a city is what’s going to be live streamed. People all over the world can buy tickets online and watch this live as it’s unfolding — all of the craziness backstage, fitting the models, meeting each other. There’s no editing. There’s no set narrative like a lot of reality TV shows. This is the real deal,” Clark beams.

She adds that five of the seven local events can be attended in person as well. The July 29th launch party will be the first of these, held at ADC Fine Art Gallery’s West Side location.

“You can go and meet the designers, the models, the co-hosts. Obviously, some drinks will be flowing,” says Clark. “Hopefully everyone will be vaccinated by then, but masks will be required.”

On the evening of Friday, July 30th, there will be a live fashion show at The Transept in OTR that can also be attended in person. Clark will be showing her collection at this event.

“I like to keep things pretty minimal and wearable, but interesting. I think I will have a focus on the art of flower arranging as inspiration, or Ikebana — from Japanese aesthetics,” says Clark.

On Saturday the 31st, a second runway show will take place. Sunday, August 1st will feature in-person and virtual shopping opportunities for items from the designers’ respective collections via a marketplace event, followed by a wrap party that evening. Locations for these events are TBD.

After the Cincinnati finale, the show will jump to a new feature city, and the 15 designers will once again showcase fresh collections in unison. A different designer from that location will be in focus as a co-host or liaison to the city, similarly to Clark’s guinea pig role for the locally produced debut episode.

According to Clark, Bond and her husband, producer Angelo La Pietra, are currently shopping The Collective around to different networks with hopes that it will be picked up. Regardless of the ultimate format, Clark is delighted and proud that Bond took such a liking to Cincinnati that she chose it as the show’s introductory location.
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Read more articles by Eliza Bobonick.

Eliza Bobonick is a Cincinnati-based writer and a mother of three. Her work has been featured in such local and regional publications as Cincinnati CityBeat and Kentucky Homes and Gardens Magazine. She is a former musician whose interests include photography and interior design.