Ken Laurence, now in Atlanta, on ‘Project Runway All Stars’ Feb. 11

Ken Laurence

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Thursday, February 11, 2016

Three years ago, Birmingham native and clothing designer Ken Laurence made his mark on Lifetime’s “Project Runway” season 12 but not for his fashion.

He argued with other designers and contributed to some of the most dramatic moments in the show’s history. (Highlights here.)

At one point, fashion guru and mentor Tim Gunn even told him, “I would say to you, in merely a caring way, that you have some anger management issues.”

In the end, Laurence finished among the bottom three five times and finished eighth place.

The show has brought him back for “Project Runway All Stars” debuting Thursday, February 11 at 9 p.m.

Since the show’s taping, he has since moved to Atlanta.

“I’ve been in Atlanta a year,” said Laurence in an interview last month. “There are more opportunities here to be quite honest. I think it’s a fantastic place to grow and build a foundation. I love the South. When I go to New York, it’s the Southern mentality that I really miss. Atlanta is faster paced and more diverse than Birmingham. And with the movie industry, there are more opportunities.”

Since he came to Atlanta and rented a place in Sandy Springs, he said he’s been focused on custom fittings and building his brand. “I’ve matured,” he said.

He said he learned a lot about himself watching the show in 2013. “To be quite honest with you,” he said, “I am one thousand percent happy that I saw that. It had a lot to do with how I handle stress. It was working those long hours and trying to get the challenges done on time.”

He said he didn’t go into the show with the approach that this is work. “When you’re at work, you deal with things differently,” he said.

Laurence said he came into this new competition with a new mindset.

“You can sit down and have a basic conversation with your cast members without having to be so hostile,” he said. “My game plan was to be more mature and go in and handle my business and build more relationship with the other designers.”

He will also change his strategy when it comes to his clothing. The first time around, he said he tried to play it too safe. “You have to put your best out there every time,” he said. “I pushed myself as much as possible this time. I was actually able to show my aesthetic that started to grow after Project Runway 12.”

Laurence has received advice from past “Project Runway” participant and Atlantan Anthony Williams, who worked a couple of seasons designing dresses for former VH1 show “Single Ladies.” “That’s something I would love to work towards,” he said.

Williams is also a Birmingham native. “He was even familiar with my work” Laurence said.

No reality show (except maybe the MTV “Real World/Road Rules” series) has mined the “all star” concept more than “Project Runway.” This will be the fifth edition and will include Alexander Pope (season 12), Kini Zamora (season 13), Stella Zotis (season 5) and Valerie Mayen (season 8).

He is excited.”The talent is amazing,” Laurence said. “The competition was so stiff!”

TV PREVIEW

“Project Runway All Stars,’ 9 p.m. Thursdays, starting February 11, Lifetime


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