This MN 'Project Runway' alum's new collection is inspired by teddy bears

Christopher Straub will show his cozy pieces this weekend at the Mall of America.
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Christopher Straub is a self-taught fashion designer who competed on the sixth season of Project Runway. The Shakopee-based artist loves teddy bears so much that he built his fall/winter collection around them. 

At the Mall of America on Friday, October 6, Straub will share the runway with six other former Project Runway designers for the third annual Curated Style Fashion Show. 

In an exclusive interview, GoMN got the lowdown on Straub’s Project Runway experience, a tease of his upcoming collection, and a preview of this weekend’s fashion-filled events at MOA.

What was your experience like on Project Runway?

I was one of those designers that really didn’t have a lot of exposure before the show. I actually had friends that didn’t even know I was a designer. After the show, all of the sudden it becomes the thing that people know about you or the thing that makes you known. You’re able to take that visibility and turn it into a business, so I have been working for myself since being on the show in 2009.

Have you kept in touch with anyone from your season?

I’m actually better friends with people that weren’t on my season, because I was never in competition with those people. As much as you sort of went through it together, there’s also a part where some people might feel jealous or where some people might feel the judging was unjust. So, fashion shows like this at the Mall of America are fantastic, because I get to show alongside people that I am friends with and people that I get to meet for the first time and we all share this one common thread.

Have you done other fashion shows with Project Runway designers?

I’ve been doing shows for over a decade now. Shows in most major cities in the U.S. with other (Project Runway) designers. You get to see what people really do outside of the confines of a reality show – what people can actually accomplish given their own timeline and resources and without someone challenging you. The real world isn’t exactly that way, so I like the idea of doing that on the show, but I love to see what people do outside with their own inspirations instead of the ones that are given to us on the show.

What kind of pieces will you be showing in your collection?

The collection that I am doing is actually inspired by teddy bears. I know that sounds kind of whimsical and kind of out there, but I really took on the idea of how kids dress. I took that and expanded it into a more sophisticated, but still whimsical, way for adults to wear. Outside of the runway I actually make custom teddy bears for people. So, I took that idea and turned it into kind of a fashion moment. Also, outside of that theme we are in fall, so I used autumnal tones, olive green, caramel, denim and deep reds. There’s lots of sweatshirts, jogger pants and casual layered looks that being in Minnesota I appreciate. I can’t wait to start layering in the fall, so I sort of channeled that into this collection.

Will you be selling pieces off the runway at Saturday’s trunk show?

At the trunk show I will have some of my handmade teddy bears, T-shirts, pins and sweatshirts that correlate with the collection that I will show. So, they are like a little piece that you can buy from the runway. I’m also a children’s book illustrator and author, so I’ll have my little children’s book collection.

Why should people attend Friday’s fashion show?

If you want the New York Fashion Week experience, but you can’t get to New York and you can’t get into those shows, this is the closest thing. It’s going to be rapid-fire models and designer after designer. It very much echoes the experience of New York Fashion Week, which is just a pageantry of design, and the fact that it is free to attend is unheard of. You can get a seat or you can stand or lineup around the Rotunda. Every view is fantastic of the show and it’s really is a feast for the eyes. I think it’s something we don’t get to see here in Minnesota very often. Then, the fact that the next day you can go and buy pieces from your favorite designer is a bonus for both me as a designer and the customers and attendees at that show.

Click here to read more information on this weekend’s style events at MOA, and you can check out Christopher Straub’s site here

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