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Originally published Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 8:43 PM

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'Fashion Show' winner Jeffrey Williams is latest reality-TV star from Seattle

An interview with Jeffrey Williams, winner of "The Fashion Show: Ultimate Collection," a reality-TV competition for runway designers. Williams grew up on Seattle's Beacon Hill, attending Eastside Catholic School and Garfield High.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Some kids grow up reading National Geographic or Mad magazine. For Jeffrey Williams, it was Italian Vogue.

"That was my bible," said the Seattle native, after his Tuesday night win on "The Fashion Show: Ultimate Collection," a Bravo TV competition for runway designers. "I've always wanted to be creative with clothes, even before I knew what designing was."

With a collection of flowy dresses in white, gray and red, Williams bested 11 other contestants from all over the country, winning $125,000 plus a fashion spread in Harper's Bazaar magazine come March.

He's the latest in a string of Seattleites who have succeeded on reality-TV shows such as "American Idol," "Apprentice" and "Top Chef."

Williams, 26, grew up by Jefferson Park Golf Course on Seattle's Beacon Hill, in a big family, with 11 siblings — third youngest among his six brothers and five sisters. He attended Bellevue's Eastside Catholic School and Seattle's Garfield High.

It was one of his older sisters, Baionne Williams, who encouraged him to apply to the show, and his late mother who inspired his winning dress — a gown in red, her favorite color. Williams' mother died in 2004 of breast cancer.

"Fashion design has so much emotion and feeling to it," Williams said. "It's something everyone connects to, like when you pick your wedding dress ... you feel so much more beautiful and so much more confident."

Design started at the age of 7 for Williams, who early on was sketching and taking apart jackets just to figure out how to put them back together again. In high school, he worked with Seattle designer Deborah Sorensen, creating costumes for Seattle's Central Community College Theater Department, Civic Light Opera and Langston Hughes Cultural Arts Center. He then attended New York City's Fashion Institute of Technology, graduating in 2009.

"My style is a little bit fearless, just me being me," Williams said. "I love playing with fabrics that give you some kind of sensuality, leathers and jerseys, that stretch over your body, cashmeres and wools and lots of silks and flowy fabrics."

As for the future? Williams plans on saving the cash prize for now and, ultimately, spending it wisely. His goal is to create a lifestyle brand, like designer Tom Ford.

"The great thing about the show is that it opens up doors," Williams said. "I want to try to peek in all the doors, make sure everything is cool, and when it's time, I'll go. Meanwhile, I'm still designing and still sketching."

But, he jokes, there may still be time to try out for "Dancing With the Stars" next.

Marian Liu: 206-464-3825 or

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