WINDERMERE — For his first assignment as a contestant on Lifetime’s series, “Project Runway: Threads,” Lucas Isasi, 13, was tasked with designing a dress that best symbolized himself.
He went to work immediately, using fire as an inspiration, and designed a piece burning with yellows, oranges and reds.
“Fire calms me,” he says. “Like, when you have to deal with bullies or something. Fire — it’s calming.”
Similarly, Lucas’ passion for fashion has never burned more brightly than it has this year. In May, the Windermere resident, along with his father, Nick, spent four days in Los Angeles filming for the new show. Their episode airs at 10 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 4.
The show features selected teen and tween fashion designers and their gift for style through themed challenges.
“It was nice to have the cameras on me,” Lucas says, grinning. “It was all really exciting. I always wanted to show my stuff on a runway.”
Many people spend most, if not all, of their childhoods (and for some, even their adulthoods) figuring out who they want to be.
Lucas never had that problem.
“He was into fashion at 6 years old,” Nick says. “He would take his sister’s Barbie clothes and create new outfits. Later, he hand-sewed outfits for his Build-A-Bear — and did his first dress at age 7.”
At the time, Nick and his wife, Teasha didn’t think much of it. After all, kids go through phases. But, when a sewing machine appeared on Lucas’ Christmas list at age 9, they knew this was a passion that wasn’t going to pass.
“I’ve just always liked princesses, pretty things,” Lucas says. “I love antiques — tea cups, perfume bottles, mirror boxes.”
After a few basic sewing-machine lessons, Lucas’ passion blossomed. He completed his first wedding gown at age 11 and has created shirts, skirts and dresses for friends and family. Today, the upstairs loft includes a corner specifically for his fashion projects. The Build-A-Bear wearing his first hand-sewn dress stands proudly on display.
“When I design, I see the whole thing in my head first,” Lucas says. “I like colors — vibrant colors. I also like black and white.”
That fondness for all things bold certainly caught the eye of the “Project Runway: Threads” producers. After one application and two Skype interviews, Lucas and his father were on a plane bound for Los Angeles.
CUT FROM THE SAME CLOTH
Filming for Lucas’ “Project Runway: Threads” episode took place in May — right during the FCATs. Fortunately, Bridgewater Middle School’s administration allowed Lucas to reschedule his testing dates.
Still, the timing didn’t leave much room for error.
“We flew out on a Tuesday,” Nick says. “We picked him up from school, from taking the FCAT, and drove straight to the airport.”
Once he arrived on set, Lucas was in his element.
“While we were doing the show, I saw him do things I’d never seen before,” Nick says. “He could just figure out how to do things.”
However, for Nick, who served as his son’s assistant on the show, it was a slightly different experience.
“It was intense,” he says. “There were 10 to 12 cameras on you, there were the challenges, the interviews. It definitely put into perspective what the ‘Project Runway’ contestants go through. This was just four days.”
Lucas says he still keeps in touch with the two other contestants who competed in his episode and considers the show a big step forward toward his dream of becoming a fashion designer. His favorite designer is Michael Kors, who grew up in Merrick, N.Y., one town over from the Isasis’ native town of Bellmore, N.Y.
And his dream college? Parsons The New School of Design in New York.
“We actually took a tour of the school three years ago, when he was just 10, and the people giving the tour thought we were there for his older sister,” Nick says. “It wasn’t until Lucas asked a question that they figured out he was the one who was interested.”
So far, Lucas’ creations have mostly been for young women, and to date, he hasn’t designed any of his own clothes.
“I just like the feel of a dress,” he says. “I’d rather make dresses than shirts and pants.”
Following the show, Nick and Teasha have worked with Lucas to devise a plan to keep the momentum going. They are working on a new website, lucas-charles.com, to showcase his work, and hope to launch his design business in 2015.
“We gave him $500 in seed money to get this going,” Nick says.
Teasha says she is excited to see what the future holds for her son.
“It’s so amazing that he’s so young and has such a passion,” she says. “He’s just an old soul. … He’s always been this way, so sometimes, we’ve taken for granted who he is. He has talent. We’re excited because this is just the beginning.”