Project Runway All Stars’ winner Mondo Guerra’s designs are more than meets the eye. The HIV+ designer and activist uses art to deliver social messages and raise awareness. His bold prints and innovative designs leave an impression that goes beyond any ordinary fashion statement. We caught up with Guerra before the reveal of his art installation at the 2016 United States Conference on AIDS.
This year Guerra introduced a new concept called POZITIVITREES, yarn-bombed palm trees that symbolize his journey living with HIV as well as the strength of those living with the virus.
“It was a reflection of what I’ve been through; a presentation of strength, courage and adaptability to live your most healthy, wonderful life,” said Guerra.
The Denver born designer says the best part about attending the USCA conference is meeting so many people that are also affected by the virus. Their stories inspire him to instill their strength into his work and bring more attention to the cause.
When asked about the younger generation’s perception of HIV, Guerra responded that it is their responsibility to access information and open a conversation with their doctors.
“Everything that I learned, I learned through experience,” said Guerra. “My biggest message would be to know your own status and educate yourself.”
Guerra spoke to us about his family and how revealing his HIV status changed his life. “After I opened up to them, the dynamic of my family changed tremendously,” he elaborated, “ I was able to understand the power of unconditional love and understanding.” He assured us that courageously speaking out about living with HIV led him to discover a life filled with more self-love and respect.
As a fashion designer and activist, Guerra believes that the most important thing for any self-conscious college student is to put energy into a passion and everything else will fall into place. He adds, “You don’t have to post a million photos on social media to feel accepted by society.”
Now, Guerra says he is more focused on doing visual art projects and advocacy instead of his usual fashion work.
More information regarding his installation at the USCA can be found on his online HIV-education campaign called I Design and sponsored by Merck.
Melissa Cabral is a senior majoring in journalism and public relations with a love for traveling, fashion, writing and ‘90s rom-coms. You can usually find her watching E! or writing content on fashion, entertainment news or pop culture. Natalia is a senior at the University of Miami studying Journalism. She aspires to attend law school and become a human rights lawyer. Natalia loves writing, volunteering, and living a healthy lifestyle.