Fashion designer Austin Scarlett gave reality television a much-needed dose of old Hollywood glamour and uncompromised luxury. Scarlett first made waves as one of the contestants on season one of Bravo's popular reality show, "Project Runway" (Bravo, 2004-08; Lifetime, 2008- ), where aspiring designers competed for a $100,000 cash prize and a chance to break into the fashion industry. During the series, Scarlett made his mark with his love of all things frilly and feminine, a sharp eye for detail, and a creative use of challenging materials. Boosted by his stint on "Project Runway," Scarlett went on to produce his own line of highly sought-after couture gowns, and established himself as one of the most original and flamboyant personalities ever to emerge from reality television.
Born in 1981 in Eugene, OR, Austin Lee Scarlett started designing clothes at an early age, mostly ball gowns for his two younger sisters. He took his passion for design all the way to college, attending The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, where he earned a degree in fashion design. While still in school, he worked as a design assistant and patternmaker, and also designed for private clients. In 2004, Scarlett scored the chance to show off his skills on national television as one of the contestants on the soon-to-be monster hit, "Project Runway," hosted by supermodel Heidi Klum. The blond, always perfectly coiffed Scarlett proved himself a strong contender from the show's first episode, where he created a glamorous evening gown made entirely of cornhusks.
Week after week, Scarlett impressed both the judges and fellow contestants with his creative use of materials and wildly unexpected designs, such as transforming a plain postal service worker uniform into a 1940s-inspired cape-and-shorts outfit. And while he did not walk away the winner of the competition, Scarlett gained legions of fans that not only admired his eye for glamour and technical expertise, but also for his ability to rise above the show's numerous catfights.
After the first season of "Project Runway" wrapped, Scarlett became the Creative Director of New York-based Amsale's luxury bridal line. His designs were also featured in high-profile fashion magazines as well as on several episodes of TLC's "Say Yes to the Dress" (2007- ). Scarlett next joined another memorable "Project Runway" alum, Santino Rice, on the Lifetime series "On the Road with Austin and Santino" (2010), which followed the colorful pair as they traveled and immersed themselves in small towns across America, creating couture looks for women celebrating life's milestones.