By KEVIN CHIRI
Tammany West news
MANDEVILLE – Tieler Garsaud might have something to say to those who gave him a difficult time as a youngster at Fontainbleau Junior High School.
“Tune in to the Lifetime channel this Thursday night at 9:30 p.m.”
The truth be told, Tieler, still only a 14-year-old from Mandeville, doesn’t have time to worry about getting the last word in to those who made life difficult for him when he was 9.
This Thursday night, the talented young fashion designer will be one of three, 11 to 16-year-olds featured on the popular Lifetime show, “Project Runway-Threads.”
Tieler auditioned as one of thousands across the country before he was selected as one of only 24 teen and tween fashion designers on the show. He made his mark in the fashion world the past two years with time working at the famous Ogden Museum of Art in New Orleans, which recommended him to Project Runway producers looking for the best of the best young designers in the nation to try out for the new season.
“Apparently the producers were looking for outstanding young designers to audition for the show and Tieler was recommended,” said his mother, Tahmi Hawsey.
In February, 2014, Tieler had a Skype audition and two months later, was chosen for the show in Los Angeles, flying there with his mother in April and spending a full week of filming. The show debuts tonight with the first of eight competitions involving three young designers a week. All will start with a “show us who you are” design, and include fast paced and themed challenges. Tieler’s episode is scheduled to air Nov. 20 although a change of that date is always possible.
This week, however, Tieler is back at a normal school week, which takes place at the prestigious New Orleans Creative Arts School (NOCA), where he was accepted this past summer for his first time as a ninth grader. Coming out of the gifted and talented program in St. Tammany schools, he is enrolled in the theater design curriculum.
“For two months after we returned from Los Angeles and filming for the show, Tieler would constantly say to me, ‘did I really just come back from filming a national TV show Project Runway?” Tahmi said.
And Tieler agrees that the entire experience is still something he is trying to grasp.
“When I think about getting to do that, and being picked for the show, it truly seems so surreal,” he said. “I kept thinking, ‘did I really just do that?’ It was so cool, so great, and something that made me think I would like to do it again and again.”
But Tieler hardly got the opportunity from pure luck. It has taken a combination of natural talent and perseverance to follow his passion after acknowledging he was gay at the young age of 9.
“From the time Tieler came out he struggled terribly because of the way he was treated by kids at school,” Tahmi said. “He was in such a dark place, but fashion truly saved him, and now this— I am extremely proud of Tieler and all he has accomplished. But most of all I am proud to be Tieler’s momma.”
Tieler said he found the arts to be a place of joy for him when he was in the third grade—enjoying the stage, and then learning to dance and sing. But he admits he always loved to sketch and never went anywhere without his sketch pad.
“I really began to enjoy sketching fashion,” he said. “The theater work got me there, but then in school I would draw prom dresses, and all the girls loved me for it. It made me cool to do something they all wanted to do.”
But Tieler wasn’t simply your regular young person with artistic ability. His fashion sketches began to get attention as he attended art camps, where he made connections with people who paved the way for him to attend summer camp at Ogden, other summer camps in New York City where he studied with Couture, and paved the way for a coming summer in London with fashion icons.
The work at Ogden the past two years put him on the map and when Project Runway came calling early in 2014, his name was recommended. Tieler said he had to do about a 20 minute Skype interview from his home, with his mom ordered to stay downstairs while he talked to a producer from the show.
“I could hear what he was saying from downstairs and kept wondering where he got his mature sounding voice,” Tammy said with a laugh. “But he did great.”
Mom and son had to wait on pins and needles for two months before finally getting a call from producers to say he had made the show.
“When my mom first told me they wanted me to audition, I was excited,” Tieler said. “But the more I thought about it, the more I got scared because I was afraid I would be rejected. In the end, I knew it was an opportunity of a lifetime and I had to do it.”
Tieler said the week of filming was intense, especially noting, “the toughest part was being in front of the camera since you were honestly RIGHT in front of the camera. It was so close all the time that it seemed like a limb on your body. We had our mics on all the time so even when we had our very nice lunch break, you had to be careful what you said.”
Starting his episode with his own “Show us Your Style,” Tieler used clothing with a cultural design, such as Indian or Hindu, something he said he was “into at that time.” He can’t reveal any results about how well he did on the show.
He especially enjoyed the critiques from internationally known judges Christian Siriano, the season four winner of Project Runway, along with Seventeen Fashion Director Gina Kelly, Accessories Editor Jasmine Snow, and YouTube style guru Ingrid Nilsen.
Not only can Tieler and Tammy not reveal what happens on the show, but they had to keep their entire week disappearance completely quiet from anyone who might ask.
“We had to lie about where I was, so I told people I had to attend the funeral for an uncle in Oregon who had already died a long time ago,” Tieler said.
Trying to adjust to life at NOCA as a national TV celebrity, Tieler said he knows he has to continue to learn about fashion as he goes forward.
“I have to keep doing what I love, and I truly love fashion,” he said. “My goal with all I do is to help women feel stronger with the fashion I design. Women are cut down so much in our society, but the right clothes can make them feel strong, and that’s what I want to help them feel.”
He said he is never short of ideas to sketch, and is currently working on his summer and spring collection that has colors and designs from “diseases that are seen on a microscope. They have beautiful colors.”
In years to come, he plans to finish high school and attend the Parson’s School for Design in New York, and eventually create fashions with what he calls “a Tieler Twist.”