By CRYSTAL SCHELLE
2:48 PM PST, January 6, 2013
Jessica Lord of Martinsburg, W.Va., isn’t a model. She’s a Marine.
But it is because of her service with the Marine Corps that Lord was selected to be part of Lifetime’s “Project Runway All Stars” as part of the show’s “All Stars and Stripes” episode on Jan. 3.
That deserves a Marine “ooh-rah!”
The episode selected four female veterans to have outfits created for them by the final four all-stars — Uli Herzner, Joshua McKinley, Anthony Ryan Auld and Emilio Sosa — as part of the Real Women Challenge.
Lord, 26, served with the Marines from 2006 to 2011. A corporal in the military police, she served one tour in Afghanistan in 2009.
Joining Lord on the runway were Army Capt. Leslie Smith, who is an amputee; Officer Donna Barrios, an Air Force communications specialist; and Petty Officer 1st Class Lisa Dalhouse, a Navy reservist and jet engine mechanic.
Lord said she got her glittery gig after she received a Facebook message from a friend with whom who she had been deployed in the Marines. She said his cousin is an associate producer with the show and told him they were looking for a female Marine veteran. Her friend encouraged her to be part of the show, and she agreed.
“I ended up going a week later to New York City to film,” she said during a telephone interview from home.
However, Lord wasn’t sure what she was getting herself into because she had never watched the show.
“I had never watched it before in my life,” she said. “But I knew of it and I knew it was a really popular show.”
Hosted by model Carolyn Murphy, whose father was a sergeant in the Air Force, “Project Runway All Stars” is a spinoff of Heidi Klum’s “Project Runway.”
Although Lord said it was a great opportunity for her, since the show wined and dined the contestants, it was also a little scary. She said she has post-traumatic stress disorder, which means her anxiety is sometimes heightened when she’s put outside her comfort zone. Lord said being in a place like crowded New York City made her a little anxious, but said the crew and fellow guest models put her at ease.
“They were so nice. It was awesome,” Lord said. “The other veterans were really nice, too. They were the most awesome women I’ve ever met in my entire life.”
She said Smith, who lost her leg due to an infection that she received in Bosnia, especially inspired her.
“She was an inspiration,” Lord said.
For the challenge, Lord, who is the mother of children ages 2 and 4, was paired with designer Herzner.
Lord said she had a hard time at first trying to tell Herzner what she wanted.
“It was kind of weird because she knows so much about fashion,” Lord said.
But in a few hours, Herzner whipped up a full-length black and white animal-striped dress with a high-low hem made of flowy material. The strappy halter top plunged with a flattering “V” that was decorated with little sparkly embellishments to show off Lord’s shape. And the nearly bare back of the dress showed off Lord’s large cross tattoo between her shoulders.
“It was crazy how she did it,” Lord said of her designer. “… What you saw on me, it took her only a couple of hours.”
Although it was fun being the model, Lord said she had a hard time with the constant invasion of her personal space.
“There were people standing around you constantly,” she said. “(They’d be) putting powder on your nose, touching your hair. Then Uli would come up and pull on the dress and make sure everything was going to stay. It was kind of weird, honestly. I don’t think it would be something I could deal with all the time.”
Lord had to walk the runway in front of regular judges Isaac Mizrahi and Georgina Chapman and guest judges Katie Holmes and Carmen Marc Valvo. Because of the special episode, none of the designers were eliminated, but McKinley won the challenge with the dress he designed for Smith.
Lord said her experience sparked her inner girly-girl.
“Now I’m a lot more into fashion, makeup, hair and all that stuff because I think the show kind of sparked something in me because I’m way into all of it now,” she said.
She couldn’t be given the dress until after her episode aired. The wedding she mentioned in the episode has already taken place since the July 2012 filming.
Lord said she enjoyed her experience and would do it again.
The show, she said, encourages women, especially female veterans, to “be proud of who you are, no matter what.”
Lord moved this weekend to North Carolina, where as a civilian she’ll be working at Camp Lejeune, the same base at which she was stationed as a Marine, to work for a security company.
Lord said she’s also proud that she was able to represent her home state of West Virginia on a reality show that doesn’t air on MTV.
“I joined the Marine Corps and sacrificed so much, but I was rewarded for being on the show. It was fun and I did it without being ‘Buckwild,’” she said, referring to the MTV reality series about a group of backwoods West Virginia friends.
Want to watch?
“Project Runway All Stars” airs on Lifetime at 9 p.m. Thursdays. The Jan. 3 show featuring Martinsburg, W.Va., resident Jessica Lord will be rerun at 11 p.m. Wednesday on Lifetime.