Friday, May 29, 2009

Love,LIfe,Liberty,Merlin Castell

Love, Life, Liberty, Merlin Castell

Thursday, May 28, 2009 – By Laura Medina, West Hollywood

West Hollywood, California (Thursday, May 28, 2009) - During Memorial Day weekend, we vegetate on the beach, the barbeque, or chilling in front of the tube.

Merlin Castell of WeHo, a contestant in Bravo’s “The Fashion Show.” WeHo News.
It takes an unlikely man to remind us the true meaning of the holiday. A man so passionate about freedom and liberty, it comes out of the blue, Merlin Castell, haute couture women’s’ wear and a contestant in Bravo’s “The Fashion Show.”

Taking a breather from doing rounds of contests and promotions, he offers a very rare glimpse into his soul, a candid tale of growing up gay in a small Honduran village to loving Los Angeles and America then competing on a television show in New York.

The usually extroverted Mr. Castell unexpectedly becomes introspective, calmly reflecting on his passage of being an immigrant, being gay in a free society then equating it with his patriotism for his adopted country.

In a middle of a banana field, a tiny village lines up for a polio vaccination. A weeping eight-year old Castell begs not to be poked. A missionary nurse promises him a comic book if he please stops. He did. As a reward, he got it but it was not a comic book. It was a Forties Vogue Magazine.

As a forlorn gay boy, the magazine’s glamour and art gave him the desire to dream about a bigger world beyond his humble village.

Growing up, his family did not have a television. They walked over to a neighbor to watch one. The simple act of watching television was so exhilarating. This too, gave him the ambition to visualize about all sorts of possibilities.

Merlin Castell of WeHo, a contestant in Bravo’s “The Fashion Show.” WeHo News.
As for that vintage Vogue, Castell proudly states it is still with him to this day. Actually, it is his bible. It goes everywhere with him from Honduras to Los Angeles to Milan then to Manhattan.

People ask him where he gets his ideas. He matter-of-factly replies he tries to stimulate the looks from that magazine.

Most people misconstrue his enthusiasm for flamboyance, his drive for egotism. If you do, do not worry. He treasures the freedom for fashion, art, and beauty and the opportunity to exceed. Something he could never do in his native Honduras.

“I was discriminated against because I was gay. I was interested in fashion; loved fashion; and everybody in school made fun of me.”

When he was eleven, Mr. Castell begun to customized the clothes his mother bought them.

“In school, nobody gets it.”

This is where having the freedom to be gay intersects with America’s liberties, the freedom of expression that exists only here.

Merlin Castell of WeHo, a contestant in Bravo’s “The Fashion Show.” WeHo News.
Underneath the flash, there is a fierce patriotism and love for the United States.

“I am so thankful I live in a country to be whoever I want to be and express myself. We (designers) are artists. I dress for myself. I dress in the way I like. I am different.”

Mr. Castell loves America. He treasures its choices and the acceptance of having the right to be an individual.

“From where I come from, there’s a lot of discrimination and problems. America, it’s like Candyland. Thank god, I have the opportunities. It’s worth it. People are amazing. Americans, they have everything here. It’s normal for them. Thank god, I live in this beautiful country.”

Being different means seeing the world in a different perspective, Mr. Castell is very worldly.

Milan disappointed him. For Castell, Europe is very conservative, commenting old people are very much in control. It was a let down.

In America, a person can rebel. You can express yourself.

Merlin Castell of WeHo, a contestant in Bravo’s “The Fashion Show.” WeHo News.
“It is young. It is fresh. You make your mark.”

For all the distracters who mock his image, his style, his accent, and his zeal, there is a depth of astuteness a few have witnessed.

Defending his image, Mr. Castell unintentionally reinforced his love of liberty.

“I read the postings and I’m shocked. People are making fun of my English and the way I dress. I have an “unique English.”

He is grateful this country gives him the chance to express himself, dressing for himself, no one else.

Appearing in a nationwide show, Mr. Castell sees this as good fortune to exhibit his mettle, “What I love, I have the opportunity to show I’m doing my own thing. I have the talent. I am the full package.”

Despite his “unique English,” Castell articulately elaborates on the rigmarole of being a contestant.

“In the competition, they don’t give any details until the last minute.”

In addition to only having six to seven hours to finish an outfit, they still have to make appearances and conduct interviews.

“We have a lot of pressure in the show, but it’s worth it.”

Merlin Castell of WeHo, a contestant in Bravo’s “The Fashion Show.” WeHo News.
Mr. Castell was disenchanted by his fellow contestants, flabbergasted by their conservatism, and how commercial they are.

“They’re brainwashed with commercialism. All those kids confused business with fashion. Commercialism, that’s business. Fashion, it’s fantasy. Let the managers handle the business. We (designers) have nothing to do with it. In life, go all the way. In the second episode, I did that.”

He states that it is the designer’s challenge to be original, bringing something new to the table. Despite setbacks, they still have to keep on going.

As for designing for Manhattan socialite, Tinsley Mortimer, this is old hat for him. He is used to designing for celebrities and Beverly Hills socialites but the everyday woman inspires him.

Looking out his hotel window, Castell talked about how beautiful Central Park is, right across the street from him.

New York is a real city. This is his first time in the Big Apple. Fearing the preconceived notion of rudeness, Castell was overcome by the local’s openness and friendliness. For him, it is a refreshing change of pace from the Hollywood scensters.

But, there is no place like LA. Mr. Castell misses working out at 24 Hour Fitness, sipping smoothies, wearing shorts and sandals while scooting around in the beautiful weather.

For him, nothing beats WeHo.

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