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Leading The Way

Top fashion designer is on a mission as celebrity grand marshal at Houston Pride Parade

Mondo Guerra, Project Runway
Designer Mondo Guerra hopes to meet fellow Project Runway alum Chloe Dao while in Houston. Courtesy photo
Mondo Guerra Crocs
Guerra and Crocs teamed up for a fashion-friendly collection of shoes. Photo Courtesy Crocs
News_Pride Parade_float
The Houston LGBT Pride Parade is Saturday, June 28 at 8:15 p.m. Courtesy of Pride Houston
Mondo Guerra, Project Runway
Mondo Guerra Crocs
News_Pride Parade_float

Mondo Guerra is on a mission.

Yes, he’s a Project Runway veteran, and yes, he’s launched a cute and fashion-friendly collection with Crocs, plus the SEE Eyewear line, and he continues to design apparel sold on his website. But it’s his commitment to HIV awareness that he’s the most passionate about.

Guerra bravely revealed his HIV-positive status during Season Eight of Project Runway, creating a graphic print made of positive signs during a fashion challenge. His heartfelt reveal endeared him to fans who appreciate his courage and design skills.

 “Don’t stress, it’s just clothes. Go into your closet and take some risks. It may be intimidating at first, but then you get a few compliments and feel great,” Guerra said. 

Behind his low-key demeanor lies his love for bold, colorful graphic design and it’s that enthusiasm he brings to the Pride Houston Parade Saturday as the celebrity grand marshal.

“Houston reached out to me and I’m so honored to be chosen,” Guerra said in a telephone interview. “It’s a big party, but it’s also an opportunity to have conversations and share stories about living with HIV.”

Guerra’s dedication to furthering the HIV discussion extends to the I Design/Merck tent at the Pride Houston Festival along Yoakum street on Saturday afternoon  The I Design campaign encourages those living with HIV to share their thoughts on how their HIV treatment plan is working for them. Guerra wants people to come by the tent, explore the I Design interactive activities and just talk to one another.

“I always try to do something in the community to encourage conversation. It’s very empowering,” Guerra said. “The I Design tent really reflects my personal mission and gives me the opportunity to create something special,” Guerra said.

Worried about hair

The parade appearance marks Guerra first trip to Houston and he’s heard all bout the city’s notorious heat and humidity.

“I’m a little worried about my hair and the weather,” Guerra said, referencing his pompadour-like style.

A devoted foodie, Guerra always checks Urban Spoon before visiting a new locale and he’s heard about Houston’s food cred. “I don’t know a lot about Houston, but I’ve heard it has really good restaurants. I really love French food, so I hope to check out a restaurant while I’m there,” Guerra said.

 “Chloe slipped under the radar, but I’m excited to meet her while I’m in Houston,” Guerra said. 

His television and design plate is just as full as his activist role. He won Project Runway All Stars and just wrapped up the first season of Project Runway: Under the Gunn, with Tim Gunn. He’s never met fellow Project Runway alum Chloe Dao, but asked CultureMap to make an introduction if possible.

“Chloe slipped under the radar, but I’m excited to meet her while I’m in Houston,” Guerra said.

Fans can purchase select items like select dresses and shirts, T-shirts, socks and tote bags on his website, but he’s branched out to collaborate with Crocs, a partnership he wasn’t expecting.

“It’s fun for me. I didn’t really think it was a fit at first, but they are really progressive and fashion forward,” Guerra said. The collection of shoes will be sold in the domestically and spread to international retailers. His trademark glasses led to a partnership with SEE Eyewear with proceeds benefiting AIDS research.

Despite the seriousness of his HIV mission, Guerra’s take on fashion could easily apply to life in general.

“Don’t stress, it’s just clothes. Go into your closet and take some risks. It may be intimidating at first, but then you get a few compliments and feel great,” Guerra said.

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