Ponyboy photographed blonde and beautiful New York City designer Kenley Collins recently. Our fashion editor, Maria Ayala, played up her glamorous 1950’s Marilyn Monroe style by putting the ravishing talent in vintage furs mixed with some of Kenley’s own designs. We especially loved dripping the young designer in rhinestone jewelry to give her that “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend ” look . After the shoot, we sat down with the talented designer and asked about her past, including Project Runway, as well as her current projects.

PONYBOY:  Kenley, please tell us about your background.

KENLEY COLLINS:  I’m from Pompano Beach, Florida, and have a marketing degree at Florida State University.

PONYBOY:  How did you get into designing clothing?

KENLEY COLLINS:  I started collecting vintage, fitting it to myself and then renewing and reconstructing it. And from there, I learned to construct and sew from scratch.

PONYBOY: What was your reaction when you found out you were picked to be on Project Runway?

KENLEY COLLINS:  I was very excited, of course!

PONYBOY:  Tell us about your Project Runway experience. Was it good or bad, overall?

KENLEY COLLINS:  Fun at the beginning, it became extremely exhausting towards the end. It was tough to hear negative things people had to say about me, but overall I’m happy to have been a part of it.

PONYBOY:  It obviously must have opened doors for you?

KENLEY COLLINS:  No, it didn’t really at first. It was right at the time the economy crashed in 2008, so I went back to waiting tables and bartending for a few years after the show.

PONYBOY:  And what are your thoughts on reality television?

KENLEY COLLINS:  It’s like watching a train wreck. It’s terrible, but you can’t take your eyes off it.

PONYBOY:  As far as your clothing designs, you seem to be focused on the 1950s. Is that your vision or passion?

KENLEY COLLINS:  I love anything starting from the 1940s to the 1960s! That’s where all my inspiration comes from.

PONYBOY:  Tell us about your “Candy” dresses for It’Sugar.

KENLEY COLLINS:  I’m so happy to work with them! They have stores opening worldwide and I’m lucky enough to know someone from the company. I mentioned if they needed any fabulous candy creations, that I could be their gal. I started with one mannequin at their Upper West Side store and now I’ve done over 20 stores! I start by looking at their candy assortments to see what the prettiest ones are. And after doing it a while, I learned which candy is easier to work with. Then I send them sketches of my designs and they order usually 2-5 looks per store. My Gummy Banana Crop Top and Sour Gummy POW Skirt is a popular look. I also do a lot of Gummy Bear Dresses, Jelly Belly Lip Skirts and Runts tops and skirts.

PONYBOY:  That sounds really fun and delicious! You also design for Ariana Grande, the teen pop star, who is such a beauty. How did that all come about?

KENLEY COLLINS:  I know! She’s such a beauty and talent that I’ve been blessed to work with. Her older brother Frankie thought we’d make a good match and introduced us. And I’ve been working with her ever since! It’s been almost 2 years now and she’s grown so much. I can’t wait to continue to grow with her as her second album comes out soon. It’s so exciting!

PONBOY:  What’s in store for you for the future?

KENLEY COLLINS:  My biggest and best line yet comes out May 1st on The launch party is at SlapBack NY on May 3rd. Follow me on Instagram @kenleycollins for updates!