Fashion designer makes his mark on runway

Jaime Liu in 2016 at the SA Fashion Week New Talent Search.

A Table View fashion designer has come second in a TV reality-show competition.

Jaime Liu, 27, was among 12 hopefuls in Mzansi Magic’s Project Runway South Africa season 1 finale, which aired last night.

Jaime says he was a “loner” growing up in Tygerhof and would head to his room and start drawing when he got home from school.

“I guess my mother understood how I was because she seemed to just let me do my own thing, and I appreciate that she didn’t try to force me to do things I didn’t want to do.”

Jaime went to Milnerton High School, which he says was a
very “artsy” type of school that helped him develop that side of himself.

After finishing matric, he went to Johannesburg to study fashion design but says he dropped out during his first year because changing family circumstances left him without the money he needed to carry on with his studies.

“That was a very difficult part of my life. I had to drop out in my first year only after just nine months. I took all the books I had from first year and taught myself from home.

“I found a job working in retail, and that’s where I would see how clothes are made, and I imagined how I’d make them myself,” he says.

He praised his mom for doing a great job raising him and his younger sister under difficult circumstances.

From about 2012, Jaime worked at a fashion-design studio, where he says he found freedom to express himself and give vent to his creativity. He was there for about four years.

He says 2016 was a tough year for him: his mom had to sell the house to pay the bills, and he slept on her couch in her new flat for about five months.

He also stayed with friends for a while. The experience, he says, taught him to be grateful and to be content with what one has.

In June this year, his journey on Project Runway began: he was part of a group of 36 people from around the country chosen for the preliminary rounds.

He was thrilled to make it to the final dozen.

“Privacy was an obstacle for me, but being away from home was my biggest issue,” he says.

“Overall, I enjoyed my time there. Even though I didn’t win, I felt the right person won.”

He says he wouldn’t have got where he is without the love and support of his fiancé, his mom and his sister.

“The show was an amazing platform to showcase my work and myself. I’m super grateful for the entire experience,” he says.