BLACK VOICES
03/08/2012 07:09 pm ET | Updated Mar 09, 2012

Nzimiro Oputa, NBC's 'Fashion Star' Contestant, Trades Engineering For Design Notoriety

With shows like "Project Runway" and NBC's spinoff, "Fashion Star," fashion designers are a dime a dozen these days. But 28-year-old Nzimiro Oputa is determined to take the fashion world by storm, nonetheless, and he's looking to his coveted spot as one of Fashion Star's 14 finalists to do it.

Oputa sat down with The Huffington Post for a chat on why his style shines above his competition and how his day job as an engineer has prepped him for his true calling in life.

Who's your muse...your ideal client? Men, women, casual, business, high end?
I dress the man that understands that style is effortless, the man who understands that style is an unspoken introduction; a caveat to the expression "first impression is a lasting impression."

My style is versatile but very personal. I am establishing a brand that warrants a style and an aesthetic that is both casual and business with hints of personal style, street style and detail.

How would you describe your design aesthetic and philosophy?
Regal. It is a style that is attractive to the modern man with an edge. The cool "prepster." You know, the one with the custom leather pencil holder, clean and refined. I choose patterns, colors and fabrics that give the feeling of "Oh, what the hell, why not?" I love to pull from the left side of the brain, the creative but practical side. No thought necessary, just the right fit.

My philosophy is "Be heard, bespoken. Simplicity wins them over every time." Over complicating your look can outshine your personality; it can be a distraction. It's so cliché to say less is more, but allowing your personality to compliment your personal style is ridiculously classy. That's what we call trendsetting.

Who is a celebrity who's style you admire and would love to dress?
Between Justin Timberlake, Pharrell Williams and Kanye West I think the four of us have the same fashion parents. Their style, the ease in execution and the ability to be daring is so inspiring and it compliments my style and brand. I would love to dress these guys. When I see a particular style I love, I say, "JT, Kanye or Pharrell would wear this" or 'WWJKPD' (get it, What Would JT, Kanye or Pharrell Do). Their style can be classified as an adjective in my personal style book.

Are there any African-American designers you consider icons?
I love Tracy Reese, I think she is amazing and she's a Detroit native, too. I love her story, style and brand. Of course I am inspired by music and hip hop is definitely a huge contributor, so the 90s for me were a major era. Maurice Malone was a huge contributor to me building an identity in fashion during the 90s. The collections he created for other designers and to go on to create his own brand, "Mo Jeans," then to be recognized by the CFDA is a huge accomplishment.

Do you solely work in fashion?
No. As much as I would love to solely work in fashion, at the moment I spend my days working as an engineer. Which I contribute a lot of my creative inspiration to this trade.

Where do you go for inspiration?
Any free time that I have, I am designing, sewing and immersing myself into my craft. Referencing blogs, Tumblrs, iconic designers and researching some of the best curators of personal style and streetwear. The curators that have their hand on the pulse of what I consider to be original and inspirational. Music is a huge contributor to my inspiration as well. The great thing about inspiration is it comes in all shapes, sizes and colors.

Three words used to describe you?
Regal, Detailed and Effortless

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PHOTOS: NBC's "Fashion Star" Sneak Peek

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