On Tuesday, fashion designer and Project Runway contestant Mychael Knight passed away at the age of 39.
No cause has been revealed, but Obvious reported that Knight was “surrounded by his loving family and friends.”
Knight made a splash during season three of Project Runway, taking home the Fan Favorite award and finishing fourth in the competition.
The late designer also struck up a friendship with season five contestant Korto Momolu, who met Knight prior to her audition for the show. The two would later compete on Project Runway All Stars, where their bond became stronger.
Reflecting on the first time they met, Momolu told ESSENCE, “A week before I auditioned for the show [Project Runway] I met Mychael at a fashion show hosted in Little Rock. I told him I was going to audition and if he felt it was worth it. He pulled me to the side and told me exactly what pieces from my collection to take and in a short time basically gave me the best pep talk of my life. He gave me that confidence to go into that audition without fear. Just like that day on the All Star stage.
“He has always been my brother, I’m older but he never missed a beat protecting me or sticking up for me. I’m going to miss him so much.. I can’t believe he’s not here to call to text.. he’s not in pain anymore I’m happy for that ..but I know he had so much more life in him and I miss my friend. Now we just have to trust God and be at peace with it.”
The designer also took to Facebook Tuesday to share a poignant tribute to her friend and former co-star.
“This is a post I never wanted to make, and it’s still unbelievable that it’s happening,” she wrote. “Today I lost someone I truly called my FRIEND, my CONFIDANTE, my SUPPORTER, my HOMIE. I’m going to miss him sooooo much. In our last text last week, he said he was getting better and stronger and I was happy to hear that. I’m devastated and saddened and Pray his angel wings are made of the finest Knight approved neoprene fit for a fashion king.”
The designer and Knight were frequent collaborators, having recently unveiled their collections together at New York Fashion Week.
Momolu added that Knight was always there to offer words of support and encouragement when things got tough.
“The hardest thing for me right now is remembering him telling me while we were on the All Star stage, after I lost again, to be strong,” she told ESSENCE. “I was so upset and on the verge of tears and he was right by my side saying ‘Don’t do it. Don’t let them break you .. you’re good, you don’t need their validation.. you’re good.’ It’s hard because I can’t stop the tears.”