Meet Malvin Vien

Malvin Vien

Meet Malvin Vien '07—a Johnston alumnus who made his debut on national TV as a competitor on Lifetime’s popular reality TV series Project Runway.

The show, which is hosted by supermodel Heidi Klum, airs on Thursdays at 10 p.m.

Watch Malvin compete against 15 other contestants for $100,000 to go towards starting his own fashion line and a feature spread in Elle magazine.

Malvin, how did you become a contestant on the show?

I was approached while at Parsons School of Design in New York City.

What does it feel like to be one of the season 6 competitors?

The experience has been both fascinating and staggering. To be honest, I'm not really following the blogs and am probably not “googling” myself as much as I am tempted.

The danger is that when you take yourself too seriously, you lose sight of who you become a fashion personality and interviews like this become something that you think you are owed.

Let’s talk fashion. Have you always been interested in it?

For me, fashion began as an art form, a visceral discourse on the body, wearable, interactive, the body as a canvas.

And lately fashion has become more than an art form, it has become a cause for development, a means through which I have begun to understand my place in our modern context.

What inspires you and your work?

My designs are about social change and fashion functions more on a level of art than disposable consumerism. In other words, my collections respond to what I have to say at the moment.

I work much more like a painter; I produce a body of work and show it--often unconventionally--performance art, guerrilla style, to have my clothes become part of a bigger statement.

I think fashion has the power to change. To put my clothes into a model where they become obsolete or disposable in a matter of months limits their power and my intentions.

It has only been two years since you’ve graduated and you’ve already come so far. In hindsight can you see how your experience at the University of Redlands and the Johnston Center influenced where you are today?

I graduated in May 2007 with a degree in Social Medicine and Creative Solipsism. Johnston showed me how to observe…the U of R was something to observe.

Solipsism is the philosophical and metaphysical theory that the self is solely defined by one’s imagination.

So, what's next?

I need to stop biting my nails. Actually, I am working at an HIV clinic, Asian Pacific Islander Coalition on HIV/Aids (APICHA) in New York and doing research for TAG, an HIV think tank—all while designing for "malvinvien." Eeee...busy.

Vien is helping APICHA to promote the “TEST ME/for HIV” campaign, a historic effort to address the limited access to HIV testing and increasing infection rates in Asian and Pacific Islander communities. Read more about Vien’s work with APICHA.

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Redlands has 12 recent Fulbright Scholar recipients.

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