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Originally published August 20, 2009 at 12:01 AM | Page modified August 20, 2009 at 1:05 PM

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Seattle designer Logan Neitzel is a contestant on new season of 'Project Runway'

Seattle designer Logan Neitzel is a contestant on this season's fashion-based reality show "Project Runway."

Special to The Seattle Times

Logan Neitzel's casting session

Logan Neitzel's audition tape

On TV

"Project Runway"

10 p.m. Thursdays on Lifetime.

For info about "Project Runway": www.mylifetime.com.

About Logan Neitzel: www.loganneitzel.com.

Tonight in Prime Time

Logan Neitzel couldn't be more ready for his moment in the spotlight — or, more accurately, on the runway.

Tonight, Neitzel will make his debut as the second Seattle clothing designer to compete on TV's "Project Runway."

Neitzel had an extra-long wait for the series' premiere because of a legal dispute over rights to the show, which moved from Bravo to Lifetime this season.

That meant even though taping wrapped in February, Neitzel couldn't reveal that he'd even been a contestant. "I started coming up with elaborate stories about where I'd been for the previous few months," he said.

The popular reality TV series, hosted by supermodel Heidi Klum, pits designers against each other in challenges that can involve any combination of circumstances. "The diversity of what I can do was an advantage," said Neitzel, who has crafted clothing for both men and women, sometimes out of unusual materials. "I kind of dabble in everything, so that definitely helped me."

The show also has the tension, friendship and emotional breakdowns inherent in any reality show.

"It was an interesting process, you know, the way we were thrown into this ultimate stressful situation and the way some bonded together and some didn't," Neitzel said. He can't say how far he got in the competition, but he says he stays in touch with some of the other designers.

Neitzel didn't try out just because he is a friend of Blayne Walsh, a fellow Seattle designer who was a contestant during the show's last season (Neitzel helped design the "Tom Ford for Prez" T-shirt Walsh wore on the show). "I was in a transitional point in my career, and it just seemed like a good opportunity to get myself out there," he said.

Members of Seattle's fashion community say this is another sign of the city's rising prominence in the fashion world. "It shows that there is a pool of talent located within the Seattle area, which is a positive sign that the fashion scene is developing here," said Andy Karuza, who helped organize the Seattle Fashion Week show where Neitzel introduced a collection this spring.

Neitzel and Walsh were both students at the Art Institute of Seattle. Joan Kelly, one of their instructors in the institute's fashion program, calls Neitzel a talented designer with a bright future. "I'm excited to see what happens," she said. "I think he's got what it takes to make him successful."

Neitzel, 26, grew up in a small Idaho town and moved to Seattle to pursue design. He says he is inspired by style icons including Karl Lagerfeld — "If Karl Lagerfeld were to adopt me, I would let him" — John Galliano and Tom Ford. He has worked as a headwear designer for an outdoor clothing company, but his rock 'n' roll runway style is typically dark and edgy.

He says he was going to lie low for tonight's premiere — until he was invited to a Los Angeles release party held by Marc Cherry, the creator of "Desperate Housewives."

"I can't really pass that up," Neitzel said.

Copyright © The Seattle Times Company

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