Project Runway Season 12 Contestant, Hellen Castillo, Talks About Her Collection For L’Oreal Paris’s #LiveInColor Event, Her Tattoos & What’s Coming Up Next

So by now you all know I attended the L’Oreal Paris #LiveInColor event a couple of weeks ago, right?

(If not, I don’t know what you’re waiting for, but you can read about it here. It was great!)

Anyway, the designer, Helen Castillo, (pictured below) presented a collection that was obviously made just for that night as each piece matched with one of the hair colors by L’Oreal Paris and it was great!

L'Oreal Paris Fashion Show & Concert Event -fashion designer
Helen Castillo at the L’Oreal Paris #LiveInColor event.

She was also very friendly, and agreed to take photos with some of the guests throughout the night.

(I wanted a photo but of course I was too scared and shy to speak up and ask. Ugh! I’ve got to get over that soon.)

Either way, after telling her how much I loved her collection via Twitter and she replied. I mustered up the courage to ask her for an interview.

(Of course, being the lovely person that she is, she agreed!)

So here you go!

Sanaa: So let’s talk about the L’Oreal Paris #LiveInColor event for a bit. Were you nervous during the fashion show? 

Helen: I think after the whole project runway experience there’s no such thing as nerves anymore before a fashion show.

Sanaa: Do you still worry what people will think of your collections and how they’ll perceive it?

Helen: I think fashion is subjective. There’s so many different aesthetics and styles out there that I don’t really worry about people liking or disliking my work. There’s definitely a designer out there for everyone and I welcome criticism with open arms because at the end of the day I love my work and I’m proud of my achievements in fashion.

Sanaa: That’s great! How long did it take you to put together the collection for the L’Oreal event?

Helen: I’ve been working with L’Oreal for quite a few months, in preparation for the live in color event. It was really awesome to get a background on the concept and philosophy of L’Oreal, and to take something as minuscule as color for inspiration was a real challenge. But [they] let me have a lot of freedom with what I designed.

Sanaa: I’m in love with the burgundy dress! How (and when) did you come up with the concept? 

Helen: Lucky for me my Feria color was Violet and I felt because that was the color that I was the ambassador for, I had to do that particular look above and beyond! So I wanted to take of course a mature approach and just make a personified version of the color. Confident, wild, sexy and free.

Sanaa: I see. Does fashion just come to you, or does it take awhile before you think you have something worth showing to the world?

Helen: I find inspiration everywhere especially in nature and even if it’s just an emotion or feeling I’m always taking notes, always illustrating and always taking photos because you never know what shadow of a building or pleat in a skirt is going to inspire a completely different garment. I definitely think that every artist [has] their doubts, but that’s the beauty of the design process, you never know what people are going to love. But at the end of the day, [you] have to do [what’s] true to you and what your company [creates].

Sanaa: Can you walk us through the process of what it took to design and make the burgundy dress?

Helen: The violet dress was the first garment that I created. I first found the fabric and then I decided because it was such a lightweight gazaar I could drape and create volume. When I think of violet hair, I definitely wanted to emphasize on the wild, but [also the] demure personality of such a color. I know it sounds crazy but when I was recruited to do this incredible opportunity with L’Oreal I thought to myself OK I have to take five hair colors and create five garments that emphasize each. It was kind of like giving personality to something out of it and I had to manifest that.

Sanaa: So a little birdie told me you were on project runway! What was it like being on the show?

Helen: Project runway was a crazy experience! There are no words to describe how intense, insane and extreme the past two years of my life [have been] and then I was on season 12 [of] project runway and [then] project runway’s All-Stars [season]. I had only graduated college maybe six months before I had been on my first season, so it was a huge learning experience. It definitely helped build a lot of confidence and I wouldn’t have changed anything about that experience.

Sanaa: Now can we talk about how cool your tattoos are for a bit? How many do you have? What are they and what do they mean?

Helen: I can’t say how many I have but I think roughly 20 to 25. I’ve gotten portions of my arms and leg done at different times so it’s really hard to consider which one counts as one tattoo or which one counts as two tattoos. But regardless, I grew up in Manhattan, I went to FIT and growing up I went to a lot of shows in the West Village and hung out on St. Mark’s place. So I just kind of, you know, was part of that scene and got a lot of tattoos when I was young. But it’s part of what I am and who I am now and I usually get tattooed depending on like a life experience, such as being on project runway. I ended up getting this snake tattoo after the first season of the show and the reason I got it was because I felt I needed something that really expressed how strong I felt and when people see it they probably think well like that’s a bad ass tattoo and if that’s the message it sends then that means getting the job done!

Sanaa: Do people ever look at you differently when they hear you’re a designer after seeing your tattoos?

Helen: Believe it or not the fashion industry is very close minded. I’ve had numerous jobs and internships in Manhattan where I’ve had to cover up all of my tattoos. I know it sounds kind of far fetched but I think it’s more about not distracting the workplace and you have to also consider that the generation that’s in the higher positions in the fashion industry are of course much older and to dress modestly in the workplace is more out of respect.  I try to be as discreet as possible when I’m in professional environments just as any other person would be. But more often than not I am definitely looked up and down if I walk into a designer store, but once they see my designer handbag and shoes they’re like oh OK I get it, yeah, she’s got tattoos but she’s also got money, so she must know what she’s doing. I know that sounds so backwards but it is that mentality.

Sanaa: Okay back to fashion! Can you tell us a bit more about your brand? 

Helen: I started my brand a few months after my first season on project runway. I decided, hey if I have this incredible exposure I might as well use it. So with that I started making gowns for Mary Lambert for the Grammys, where she perform with Madonna, among wedding dress commissions and other red carpet events. I just felt like it was now or never and I have to take advantage of where my name is. So with that being said, since All Stars, I’ve shown at New York fashion week numerous times and I’m definitely blessed with how my successes drive since the show and I am currently working on a collection in collaboration with Macy’s.

Sanaa: Oh wow! That’s great! And that was definitely my next question! So you are working on something new at the moment, correct?

Helen: Currently I’m working on my next collection, which will debut in September. It will also be on Macy’s website, so I’m really excited about that again, it’s ready to wear which I’ve kind of segued into after having been on project runway mostly because it’s more accessible than red carpet gowns and bridal. But I feel really proud and I’m really excited to share my garments with everyone that’s affordable and fashion forward.

Sanaa: OMG, that’s great! I can’t wait to see it! Before I wrap this up, how can others get in contact with you? 

Instagram @designerhelen

Facebook helenccastillo

Twitter @designer_helen

That’s it you guys, thanks so much for reading this, it was definitely a pleasure being able to interview Helen! I can’t wait for her new Macy’s collection!

If you’d like more info about Helen, you can always visit her website,

Also, in case you haven’t read my L’Oreal Paris #LiveInColor event recap yet, (which I don’t know what you’re waiting for) here’s the dresses from her collection.

So what do you guys think? I mean you already know I love her collection, so leave a comment below and let me know if you do too! (Or if you don’t … I won’t judge you! Lol)

sanaa brooks signature

2 Comments Add yours

  1. tarahsaint says:

    That’s so awesome that you got to interview her! Love the show.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sanaa Brooks says:

      It definitely was! I saw her too at the L’Oreal Paris event if you haven’t read about that yet. That’s how I got to interview her. She’s great! 🙂

      ~ Sanaa


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