Kentaro Kameyama

Fashion Forward

Kentaro Kameyama brings his experiences as a Project Runway winner and Fashion Week El Paseo designer to the classroom at Idyllwild Arts Academy.

JIM POWERS Current Digital, Fashion & Style

Kentaro Kameyama

Kentaro Kameyama comes to Idyllwild Arts Academy after teaching fashion at The Fashion School of Los Angeles.

One of Kentaro Kameyama’s first tenants of fashion design is storytelling. In order for the pattern, design, and appearance to connect with its audience, the ensemble has to communicate on its own.

That philosophy takes Kameyama back to his musical roots well before he picked up a thread and needle. He grew up in a family of musicians, teachers, and interior designers, and every weekend he would attend a jazz concert or visit a museum.

“Those are kind of like things always my piano teacher told me,” Kameyama says. “When I play Beethoven, it can't talk, you have to tell story. Don't just hit notes, tell your story. And I do the same with my fashion kids.”


At Fashion Week El Paseo in 2018, Kentaro Kameyama wowed the audience with these floor-length silk dresses.

Later this month, Kameyama will start as the chair of Idyllwild Arts Academy’s Fashion Design Department. The winner of Project Runway Season 16 in 2017, Kameyama showcased his collection a few months later at Fashion Week El Paseo 2018 where among other outfits he presented floor-length silk dresses in solid black, olive, and a beautiful bright fuschia, all paired with black leg warmers for a youthful look.

"Kentaro was chosen for the position of fashion chair because of his conviction that he can inspire young people in their journey to success in the fashion industry,” says Abbie Bosworth, chair of InterArts and Fashion at Idyllwild Arts Academy. "When searching for a fashion chair, we needed someone with an understanding of more avant-garde or conceptual fashion to balance the already practical and industry-savvy fashion faculty.”

This will not be Kameyama’s first teaching gig. He was first a student at The Fashion School of Los Angeles, graduating in 2015, later became a teacher, and then fashion design chair where he organized the school’s runway shows. He first studied music starting at age 5 in his native Japan, earning a graduate certificate in piano performance from the University of Southern California and a masters’ degree in music from the University of South Carolina.

Kameyama chats further with Palm Springs Life about this opportunity in Idyllwild and how he will use his experience in the classroom.

Kentaro Kameyama works alongside his students designing clothes.

How did this opportunity with Idyllwild Arts come about?

I just applied in March when they posted the job. I think I was always into education, and at this point in my life I wanted to spend more time on educating the younger talents rather than me trying to showcase my newest collection. I want to share my experiences rather than I want to do more for myself.

Have you ever been to the school, or Idyllwild? How will you handle the logistics of teaching at the school from Los Angeles?

I’ve been to Palm Springs, Joshua Tree, and around there. Idyllwild was a little bit different from what I expected because in Palm Springs and Joshua Tree, it’s the desert. But I love nature and I look at the pictures of Idyllwild and fell in love with the beautiful scenery. I will have an apartment in Idyllwild and keep one in LA, too. I hope to get back to LA a few times a month, but I'm going to be able to manage my business going around here. And it keeps the connection with our LA people and the models and the factory and production people. So it's going to work. And I do have assistant here too so I think it's going to work out.

What do you like most about teaching?

I don’t think it's not necessarily just in fashion, but anyone who is an educator loves to see the process, students growing, getting better,and starting to be a better person. I'm kind of very picky about craftsmanship, a clean look, and paying attention to detail in your pattern, and so I kind of push my students in that way.

You came to fashion design from music. How did that shape you as a student of fashion and how will that help your students at Idyllwild Arts?

I think I really want to expose them to a lot of different arts. I happen to student classical piano for over 30 years. And if anyone studies one thing that hard, you can see another layer of understanding. You start to see connections with painting, dance, and more. There are not many people like me getting into fashion from a different media. I think I can share that experience.

“I don’t think it's not necessarily just in fashion, but anyone who is an educator loves to see the process, students growing, getting better,and starting to be a better person.”
— Kentaro Kameyama

So what fashion projects are you currently working on?

In June I presented my new swimwear collection at Los Angeles Swim Week. LA Fashion Week is coming in October. And in November, I will working on this chamber opera of two singers and one piano, where I composed the music and designed the costumes for the show. So that will be happening in November at Boston Court Pasadena.

I also read you will appear in a couple of fashion-focused TV shows this fall.

Yes, I’m going to be on House of Eleven Fashion Show on TLC (founded by Darcy and Stacey Silva) and then a show on Amazon about working with a transgender modeling agency.

When you appeared at Fashion Week El Paseo in 2018 coming off winning Project Runway, does that seem like a long time ago.

The funny thing is when I won Project Runway, it’s not like I didn’t care. I didn’t think I was going to win. I just did my best and just happened to get picked the winner. I didn’t really care about it until two or three years later. I kind of started to realize everything I have now. I wouldn’t have it if I didn’t win. It does seem like a long time ago.

Do you still watch Project Runway?

I don’t have a TV so I can’t. I’m not a TV person, I don’t even like to watch movies. I feel like give me back my two hours of my lifetime.

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