Project Ra’monFormer Minneapolis resident hits the airwaves on this season’s “Project Runway.”

Really, really, ridiculously good-looking Ra’mon.
PHOTO COURTESY LIFETIME TV

Ashley Goetz

Really, really, ridiculously good-looking Ra’mon. PHOTO COURTESY LIFETIME TV

RaâÄômon-Lawrence Coleman , 31, didnâÄôt plan to make his name as a fashion designer, nor as a contestant on reality-TV fashion show âÄúProject Runway,âÄù either. Rather, the self-described âÄúurban kid from Chicago,âÄù then 15 years old, began college to pursue a career as a neurosurgeon, but luckily for fashionphiles all over the nation, he chose sewing machines and couture over a lab coat. A&E has the full story on ColemanâÄôs runway life and his future in the public eye. âÄúI decided I didnâÄôt have the heart but more so the intellect,âÄù he said. âÄúGrowing up, I was really immersed in the art community, so I wanted to go back into that. The whole idea of starting at one point is more common than people think. A lot of people who are more left-brained become more right-brained.âÄù Coleman studied fashion design (and performing arts) at ChicagoâÄôs School of the Art Institute , spent some time in Europe perfecting his craft and ended up being headhunted by the folks at Minnesota retail giant Target to design for its Mossimo Black label. âÄúIn the time that I was there, I became a jack-of-all-trades. It was an amazing experience âÄî it really helped me understand mass market,âÄù he said. âÄúAnybody could be, in a strange way, a couture designer because you can be completely conceptual. A really âÄòrealâÄô designer can take something that retails for $2000 and interpret that for $20. No matter what your economic status is, everyone is hungry for good fashion, and everyone should have that accessible to them.âÄù While working for Target, Coleman was busy creating for his own eponymous line, RaâÄômon-Lawrence, as well. âÄúRaâÄômon makes the kind of pieces that demand a second look. Head-turners,âÄù fellow designer and close Coleman friend Laura Fulk said. âÄúYet they are extremely wearable. He knows a womanâÄôs body and how to flatter it correctly while taking risks and yet leaving room to be experimental.âÄù Kate Iverson, who helped Coleman film his âÄúProject RunwayâÄù entry video said, âÄúRaâÄômon also has a deeply instinctual understanding of the human form; watching him drape and redrape, pin and shift his garments into a final product is quite amazing. ItâÄôs very nuanced and thoughtful and always flattering. RaâÄômon definitely knows how to dress a woman.âÄù Coleman not only showed at 2007âÄôs edition of Voltage: Fashion Amplified, but also staged a solo spring 2008 runway show at the Soo Visual Arts Center on Lyndale , a 52-piece collection entitled âÄúEluded Love.âÄù âÄúI like to really think about how making things beautifully works,âÄù Coleman said of his design aesthetic. âÄúAt the same time it doesnâÄôt have to be overcomplicated, like when you take a really crazy fabric and do a simple silhouette like a tee or a tank; I like that chaos.âÄù He listed music (Icelandic musician Björk in particular), art and architecture as inspirations when creating the clothing that made him a local darling and, now, a big buzz in the âÄúProject RunwayâÄù world. Coleman applied for the show last summer. âÄúYou go through submitting application and video for [producers] to get a sense of who you are as a person, a portfolio to reflect your aesthetic. From there, there are stages: you meet with them, you do a presentation of your collection, give them a chance to get a feeling of your personality and from there youâÄôre in a trap,âÄù he said laughing. Now that the official announcement has been made and the contestants presented to the world, Coleman said of his newfound reality-TV fame, âÄúThis is walking down the street that IâÄôve had to experience someone coming up to me and going, âÄòOh, are you that guy?âÄô Just to be part of something thatâÄôs so supportive and very empowering, cultivating independent designers, itâÄôs something that IâÄôve been pumped about. I feel humbled by it, honored to be part of it.âÄù Of course, with reality-TV casting comes the stereotypes assigned to the âÄúcharactersâÄù we watch. âÄúI hope if anything, I know that anyone has a preconceived notion of who I am,âÄù he laughed. âÄúI think theyâÄôll be pleasantly surprised. I think people will see things they wonâÄôt expect; as the urban kid from Chicago, I have a point of view that will come from left field, and I should be entertaining.âÄù Iverson said RaâÄômonâÄôs âÄúobsession with his craft and his ability to visualizeâÄù will serve him well on the popular reality-TV show. âÄúI think heâÄôll flourish in the creative challenges, and I think heâÄôll definitely be a strong presence on the show âÄî RaâÄômon is a firecracker. Plus, heâÄôs pretty easy on the eyes.âÄù âÄúProject RunwayâÄù aside, Coleman will be as busy as ever no matter the outcome of the show. Besides his own line, heâÄôs now stationed in Milwaukee, working for KohlâÄôs. One project is revamping the old junior-high standby, Mudd, and bringing it into the present. And another, to ask him about, is his collaboration with Lauren Conrad on her KohlâÄôs line . Of his fellow reality-TV vet, he said, âÄúI canâÄôt think of anything but positive things about her. She has an amazing eye.âÄù Whatever the future holds for him, Coleman feels strongly about his love for fashion. âÄúItâÄôs easy for people to see it as being superficial, but the way I see it âĦ it awards the opportunity to live a fantasy. I love how fashion can be all about making a really crazy statement and being OK with that.âÄù