Project Runway’s Mondo Guerra reveals he’s HIV positive

Mondo Guerra

Sometimes a bold-patterned fuchsia-and-yellow high-waisted pant can change your life.

Project Runway‘s new ninety-minute time slot this season is amazing, and it just gets better as it gets paired down to fewer and fewer contestants.

It’s great to get a better picture of each designer’s process; to have more time with the judges, more time with the fabulous Tim Gunn, and more time for personal drama. It creates a intimate and thorough feel. They could probably put this on for four hours each week and I would watch. (The Biggest Loser drones on for two friggin’ hours and they don’t even make anything.)

Mondo Guerra HIV Positive design
Above: Mondo Guerra’s winning design from Project Runway Season 8 Episode 10 featuring his HIV-positive inspired custom textile print. (Click photo for larger image)

It’s fun sometimes to watch the contestants be taken through an emotional ringer so you can sit back, lick the Cheetos paste off your fingers, and thank the heavens that you don’t have to make a couture gown out of pipe cleaners in less than three hours. It’s also a blast to watch the cattiness and back-biting. Sometimes the total break-downs are either hilarious (think the attention-seeking former meth addict from Season 6), riveting, or both (this season’s Casanova).

But never did we expect to be emotionally torn apart and spiritually inspired by a Project Runway episode.

The immensely talented Mondo Guerra, who can take any brightly colored bold pattern and whip it into the most elegant gown in the room, reached through our television screens and lifted us up while tearing out our hearts with HIV confession. It was breathtaking because this was something he’s been hiding from his family, and many others, for ten years.

The contestants were greeted in the workroom by old family photos of themselves and asked to make a textile pattern that “evoke[s] something deeply personal.”

“The point of departure for your textile design is to be a moment, a period of time, that you found to be especially profound, important, and inspiring to you. Your textile design must evoke something that’s deeply personal.”

Mondo immediately went to work designing a really gorgeous pattern based on the positive sign to represent his HIV+ status. He wouldn’t tell the other designers or Tim Gunn what it really meant.

Mondo Guerra's custom print fabric inspired by his HIV positive status

In fact, he almost didn’t tell anyone what it meant until very late in the judging process. (The voice-overs that narrate the early parts of the show were recorded after his revelation.) At some point Nina Garcia exclaimed “I wish I knew what the story was!”

After the other contestants told the stories of their pattern, Mondo, who was the clear leader, finally spoke up:

“Nina, you asked me what my story was, and the symbolism in the pant actually are, these pluses are positive signs. And I’ve been HIV positive for ten years. And when I saw these pictures of my family, it brought back a lot of emotion. And so I wanted to pull from the past, but I also wanted to give something back of who I am now. And that I’ve been so scared of, and hiding from. And so, that’s the story.”

He followed up with “I feel better now, I feel free.”

Watch below:

Thanks Mondo, this brave confrontation touched and helped countless people. Here is the winning look again, this time from the front and back.

(Click to enlarge)
Mondo Guerra HIV positive inspired design from Seaon 8 episode 10Back view of Mondo Guerra's HIV-positive inspired look
Mondo’s inspirational winning design from the front and back. (Click the images to see larger photos in the gallery. If those aren’t big enough then click ’em again for super-sized pics!)

You can keep up with Mondo and the rest of the Project Runway Season 8 contestants every Thursday night at 9/8c on Lifetime and follow-up with all sorts of extra videos and information about the episodes and contestants at!