Unexpected twists and turns are part of the fabric of Lifetime’s Project Runway, but a heartbreaking surprise elimination at the start of Season 13 took down a Dallas designer before he could pick up a needle and thread.
We at DFW Style Daily have followed Emmanuel Tobias for years, first making his acquaintance as a promising new graduate of the University of North Texas in 2011. In the same year, his dramatic creations made a splash at the Scion Driving Fashion Show for young designers in Plano. Never losing sight of his dream to make it in the fashion world, Emmanuel, now 29, surprised many by appearing on Project Runway’s Season 13 pre-premier Road To The Runway special last Thursday, July 24.
No press releases were sent, and no personal emails received, as to our hometown favorite’s Project Runway appearance. The reason would soon be revealed. Still hoping for the best, however, we cheered for Emmanuel in a “Rags to Stitches” segment centering on Season 13 contestants who come from backgrounds of personal hardship.
“It’s been a struggle. I’ve wanted to give up so many times, but I’m still here,” Emmanuel explained of his difficult journey. The show detailed his Mexican heritage, a childhood in which money was very tight, and his current reality of holding down three jobs to make ends meet. Despite these challenges, Emmanuel remained fresh-faced and funny on camera, and rarely without a genuine smile.
“I think right now in my life, I’m in a good place emotionally as a designer,” the Dallasite concluded after hosting Project Runway crews for both home tours and interviews here in Big D. “I’m ready to take it to the next level.”
Emmanuel then presented a range of looks to the pre-qualifying Road To The Runway judges. He described his aesthetic as “progressive and edgy,” and garments including a dramatic, black and white butterfly embellished cape made good impressions (shown here on LeeAnne Locken at Fashion Cited 2014). At the end of the episode, he was selected to advance to the Season 13 premier of Project Runway.
True to form, however, as soon as judges Nina Garcia, Heidi Klum, and Zac Posen came onto the scene, the stakes were raised and the drama was turned up several notches. After all, Project Runway hasn’t become the most compulsively watchable, true-to-life fashion reality competition show for nothin’.
It was soon revealed that, of 18 designers hitting the ground running for Runway’s Season 13 premier, only 15 would advance past the starting line. A second review of each designer’s audition collection commenced, and Emmanuel’s was found wanting. Specifically, Nina, Heidi, and Zac noted varying aesthetics in his creations. Emmanuel’s collection, they asserted, looked like it had been created by “three different designers.”
Whether or not we the viewers agreed with this assessment was beside the point, as all potential competitors were then gathered for the surprise pre-elimination. With the butterflies now in our stomachs, first one designer and then another were sent packing. Emmanuel Tobias was the third to be declared “out.” His Project Runway appearance was over before it began.
“I tried my best, but unfortunately, it didn’t happen for me,” Emmanuel concluded in his final interview. “All I can do is just move forward.”
Our hearts go out to you, Emmanuel, and we see a bright future ahead. As for Project Runway Season 13, a lone Texan remains in competition. Samantha Plasencia of San Antonio shows promise, but our pick so far is Detroit’s Char Glover. Visit MyLifetime.com for details and episode schedules.
Emmanuel Tobias lead image, credit Quoc Cong – XO Photography. Fashion Cited photograph, credit Thomas Garza Photography. Additional images via MyLifetime.com and Facebook.com.