VERMILION, Ohio — A Northeast Ohio native is in the international spotlight for his cutting-edge fashion designs and revolutionary styling skills.
Curtis Cassell is scoring high marks on Amazon Prime Video’s reality competition "Making the Cut" all while giving big shoutouts to his hometown of Vermilion.
"My favorite are just the messages that are just like, hey, just keep doing you. I love this. This is inspirational, you know?" said Cassell.
The Vermilion High School graduate's designs are garnering widespread acclaim.
As a contestant on Amazon Prime Video’s “Making the Cut” season three, the Vermilion High School graduate’s creativity and talent stand out amongst a crowd of ten designers from across the world.
They’re all vying for a cool $1 million prize and a mentorship with Amazon Fashion.
Each episode they design looks for a challenge.
The looks are judged by a star-studded panel including Heidi Klum, Nicole Richie, and Jeremy Scott.
After each fashion show--the winner's accessible look with additional colors and companion pieces are available in the Amazon store.
"Tim and Heidi's like main thing they wanted to do with this new show --was to create a direct link between the viewer and the consumer and the designer," said Cassell.
The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity didn't happen overnight.
Cassell applied for the show on a whim thanks to a friend's encouragement.
For years he hustled as a waiter and noticed there was a clear gap when it came to wedding attire.
He wanted to shift the landscape and incorporate his voice for the LGBTQIA+ community.
"I was working a lot of weddings, and that's when I realized, Wow, the wedding system is really binary. It's literally a black suit and a white dress. There's nothing in between."
At that moment, The Illinois Institute of Art – Chicago Interior Architecture grad's, clothing line "Queera" was born.
Cassell describes it as a colorful grayscale of garments that fall in between.
The motto is fitting your body, not defining your gender.
He says it's a non-binary clothing label for everybody--looking and wanting to feel their true self.
"It was really important to me to not create clothes that had gender attached to them, but just create different garments of clothing that you can work into your own closet and wear however you want to wear it."
Cassell says the show is beginning to change his life, but his heart and family including his mom, dad, brother Chris and both sets of grandparents are still in Vermilion, Ohio where it all began.
"That's just been really exciting, is representing my state and my hometown, you know, little Vermillion, you know, Harbor Town on the lake."
While his family keeps him humble, he says he will never forget the moment supermodel and show host Heidi Klum paid him quite the compliment.
"What you don't see on the first episode--Heidi Klum is critiquing me, and she says, Oh, by the way, you're very attractive. And yeah, Caliente. And I just like melt."
Making the Cut is streaming now on Amazon's Prime Video.
To check out Cassell's designs click here: QUEERA (queerawang.com)