Following fashion convention has never been a strong suit for “Project Runway” alumna April Johnston. The 2006 graduate of Lake Norman High School says while growing up in Mooresville, her personal style was “absurd.”
“I was pretty colorful back then,” she says with a laugh. “I wanted to make a statement — any statement — so badly, it just had to be obnoxious. I had no filter, and I wanted to get as far away from the Abercrombie & Fitch look as I could.”
Soon after finishing her studies at the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2010, Johnston found herself cast as the youngest competitor on season 8 of Lifetime’s reality fashion show. It was there the world got to know Johnston’s refined sensibilities, heavy on gothic romance with a modern twist.
She has parlayed that aesthetic into a successful line called Mangled Courtesan, and the a collection of fabrics with Springs Creative of Rock Hill for Jo-Ann Fabrics. We caught up with her recently and got the scoop on her appearance on “Project Runway All-Stars” (set to air in January 2012) as well as her plans for an all-black wedding in Savannah’s Bonaventure Cemetery.
Q. Tell us more about your line. Who is the Mangled Courtesan client?Mangled Courtesan is a brand that is all one-of-a-kind, all handmade items. I do a lot of client work, and collaborate with them for their specific event and throw in my style. I’m of that dark romantic scene with modern tailoring. My clothing has this textural element that is dark and romantic. I also get requests for my clothes for use on TV shows. I’ll have some things on “Jane by Design,” a new show debuting on ABC Family in January.
Q. Are you working on a collection for Fall 2012? I will do a Fall collection, but I won’t be starting it until after the holidays — I’m getting married in March 2012 and I’m making my own dress and working on my wedding. (Fiance Aaron Hoffman and I) are getting married in Bonaventure Cemetery, and my bridesmaids either be wearing all black Mangled Courtesan one-of-a-kind looks or black suits. I want everyone that attends to wear black. Kind of like the wedding in “Adams Family Values.” All of my bouquets will be dipped in black wax. It’ll all be very dark, but very personal.
Q. How did you come to work with Springs Creative, a textile company based in the Carolinas? A lot of people that work there have Savannah College of Art and Design connections, actually. But I think they saw that I was from Mooresville and went to SCAD and it just went from there. Our first line just came out in September. The spring line will be in stores in January, and I did all the illustrations for the fabric. It’s kind of dark romantic tea party, with dolls that you’ve had sitting on a shelf for years, that just got back into the tea party groove and nothing’s been adjusted. There’s a dusty pink palette, with black and lace inspirations. It’s beautiful. I can’t wait until they come out so I can start working with these materials.
Q. Your family is lives in Mooresville, but you have called Savannah home for almost six years. What about Savannah keeps you there?I love reconstruction, but I like it to be a little grungy, and that’s Savannah. I love the aesthetic. It’s beautiful, but it’s still raw. ...In the utmost way, Savannah is me. Everyone is genuine, so down to earth and it’s small, I can keep up with everyone.
Q. Give us some scoop on “Project Runway All-Stars.” Was there a lot of drama? It will air in January, and it is definitely full of characters. It should be a really fun season to watch. It’ll be great way to start off 2012. It’s going to be cool to see the people back on there and the meshing from the different seasons. Enemies will be made. ....I took into account what I learned the first time around and entered “All-Stars” with a new mindset. I make some changes that people will notice for sure. I’ll just leave it at that.