Film and TV

Environmentally Conscious Dallas Designer Lela Orr Will Compete on Project Runway

Lela Orr will be on this season of Project Runway.
Lela Orr will be on this season of Project Runway. Miller Mobley

Dallas fashion connoisseurs may see a familiar face on tonight’s season premiere of Project Runway. Designer Lela Orr is set to compete on the show's 17th season. In 2016, Dallas native Orr founded Ferrah, a fashion line produced in an environmentally conscious manner.

“The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world,” Orr says. “I wanted to do my part to combat this statistic by being a zero waste designer who works exclusively with natural dyed and fabrics whilst staying true to my fashion-forward aesthetic. I believe that sustainability is not just a trend but a cause we can all become part of to secure the future of upcoming generations.”

Apart from helping people maintain a low carbon footprint, Orr also hopes to evoke confidence within Ferrah wearers.

“Confidence is the most beautiful thing about a person,” Orr says. “If you feel good, you look good. When designing, I keep comfort and luxury in mind.”

“If you feel good, you look good. When designing, I keep comfort and luxury in mind.” – Lela Orr

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Confidence played a key role in Orr’s decision to audition for the 17th season of Project Runway.

“For years friends have asked if I would consider auditioning for Project Runway,” Orr says. “I can be pretty introverted and figured I wouldn’t be a great fit for TV. Being on Project Runway was a longtime dream, but I didn’t necessarily think it would be something I would pursue. Something about this season just felt right.”

The new season of Project Runway comes with many changes. Longtime mentors Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn opted not to return for the 17th season, and there will be new judges on the panel, and Karlie Kloss will host and produce the show.

“The prize this year includes the largest cash prize in Project Runway history, plus mentorship with the [Council of Fashion Designers of America],” Orr says. “I also think viewers will be pleased with the designers cast on this season. Obviously I’m biased, but I think we are an extremely talented group.”

Orr, by all means, is a woman’s woman, a feminist who cites Maya Angelou, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Cleo Wade as inspirations. She hopes to use her platform to inspire women, both young and old, to follow their dreams.

“It’s funny because as women, we make up the majority of consumers of fashion and apparel,” Orr says. “We dictate what’s hot and what will sell, yet like most industries, women make up only a small percentage of leadership roles in fashion. There are actually very few women who are the head of major fashion houses. I would tell young girls and women wanting to work in fashion to aim high. Anything is possible with enough hard work and determination.”

Project Runway airs at 7 p.m. tonight on Bravo.
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Alex Gonzalez has been a contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2018. He is a Dallas native whose work has appeared in Local Profile, MTV News and the Austin American-Statesman. He has eclectic taste in music and enjoys writing about art, food and culture.
Contact: Alex Gonzalez