Allie Lunt, from Dayton, Ohio, has always had an interest in art and crafts. As a child, Allie would embroider and design clothes for her Barbie dolls. For career day, she would dress as a fashion designer.
Now, at 14, Allie is designing clothes for a new audience as the ninth-grader was one of 12 young designers selected to participate in “Project Runway: Junior” that will premiere Dec. 22 on Lifetime.
For 15 years, Lifetime’s “Project Runway” has helped launch careers of aspiring designers through the reality TV-style competition where contestants are given weekly design challenges, from designing for a particular event or drawing inspiration from an event or place to using unconventional materials within an allotted time period. The final challenge for the top designers is creating a collection that will be shown at New York Fashion Week.
Allie said she loved the show, which includes fashion school graduates to self-taught designers, even before she was able to understand what it was. She asked her mom, Sarah Lunt, if a show was made for younger designers if she could participate. Last year, the network launched a version for youths ages 13-17. After a second season was announced, mother and daughter went to work to submit pictures of Allie’s work and an audition video. Then they waited for a reply.
When she found out that she was among the 12 contestants selected to compete in season two of the show, Allie was thrilled.
“After a moment of shock, I freaked out and started crying and jumping up and down and screaming,” Allie said in a phone interview with Deseret News. “This has been a dream of mine for so long. I never thought it would happen this early.”
The road has not been easy, and it has required a lot of work — work that Allie said has pushed her to realize her potential and focus on a career.
According to her website, allielunt.com, she likes hummus, '80s rock and Marvel, and she also “finds joy in her faith.”
As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Allie said that hard work, passion, perseverance and faith have helped her through the tough times.
“It will get hard but you keep loving it,” Allie offered as advice to anyone with a dream. “Whatever you love, keep at it. The Lord will guide your way and guide you to where you need to be.”
In 2014, Allie's mom, who owns a woman’s boutique, went to New York Fashion Week. In what she calls “a cool foreshadowing” of what was to come, Sarah Lunt was able to meet Tim Gunn, design educator, co-host and mentor of both “Project Runway” and "Project Runway: Junior." She told Gunn she had a daughter who loved to sew and design. His response to her was to keep encouraging her daughter.
“That just goes to show that the Lord always has a hand in your life and he is always going to show you the right path,” Allie said.
Allie, who calls herself a “fan girl,” admits that when she first saw Gunn she started crying.
“It was the coolest thing ever,” Allie said of the experience. “I love Tim Gunn. Being mentored by him and getting to be on a personal level close to him is seriously the most amazing thing.”
A moment on the show that was particularly memorable to Allie was when Gunn complimented her, saying, “Allie, your tailoring is impeccable.”
“That quote meant a lot to me because Tim has always been my hero,” Allie said. “He has always inspired me. The fact that he had been standing right in front of me was amazing, but that he also loved my work. It just made the whole experience so surreal. I’ll always remember that."
Gunn and co-host model Hannah Jeter will be joined by designers Kelly Osbourne and "Project Runway" season four winner Christian Siriano and fashion editor Aya Kanai, according to a news release.
Allie describes her style on a commercial for "Project Runway: Junior" as “flowy, classic-y, but with a retro vibe.”
Allie said that her design style of modesty is a personal decision.
“Modestly is often misunderstood,” Allie said. “I feel like it is not about the length of your hemline or sleeves. It is not about what you can’t wear. True modesty is beautiful and is a reflection of your relationship with God and Jesus Christ.”
Sarah Lunt, who is the first counselor in Young Women in the Springboro Ward, Dayton Ohio Stake, said she has always tried to instill in her children that modesty is more than clothing and that part of modesty will show in every area of your life.
“(Modesty) is the way you treat people and the way you carry yourself, and part of that is with clothing, that you are dressing in a way that you feel respectful,” Sarah Lunt said. “We are all on a personal path. I hope that as people personally develop their testimony on modesty and virtue, they will allow others to grow too.”
“The last thing I want to do is make someone feel judged based on what they are wearing,” Allie said. “I feel like (modesty) should be beautiful, and I feel like my designs are able to reflect that. I really want people and the women I design for not to just feel like they are wearing a beautiful dress, but I want them to see the beauty in themselves, too.”
Allie said her experience on “Project Runway: Junior” has allowed her to gain some wonderful friends and has boosted her confidence, and her mother was able to see her personal growth in a new kind of family.
Sarah Lunt encouraged parents to listen to their kids, allow them to develop their talents and encourage them in their interests.
“It was the best experience we could have hoped for,” Sarah Lunt said.
For more information about Allie, visit Instagram.com/allie_lunt, allielunt.com and facebook.com/allie.lunt.75. And for more about "Project Runway: Junior," visit mylifetime.com/shows/project-runway-junior.
Allie Lunt 'Project Runway: Junior' audition
Allie Lunt's "Project Runway: Junior" audition video. She is a 14-year-old fashion designer from Dayton, Ohio.