Project Runway season 15 winner talks challenge highs and lows
Project Runway celebrated a couple landmarks this fall season. Not only did it mark the return of Michael Kors (okay, yes, only for one episode!), but it also crowned a 15th winner of the reality design series.
[Stop reading now if you haven’t watched the season finale!]
The winner, Erin Robertson, started the Lifetime competition out strong — had a few weeks in the bottom — and came out a winner with her “kooky” final collection. Here she talks to EW about the ups and downs of season 15.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Congratulations! How does it feel?
ERIN ROBERTSON: I don’t understand feelings anymore after this. Every day I think about everything that’s happened and it’s just been something new in my brain.
If you had to sum up your Project Runway journey in one or two sentences, what would you say?
Uhhh. Oh, my god. I actually don’t even know. Wow. Yeah, maybe that’s my answer. It’s just a bunch of jumbled up words.
You began with quite a few winning looks and then you hit a slump and kept landing in the bottom — what do you think attributed to that?
We film the first 12 challenges within six weeks. So we didn’t have a day off until after the seventh challenge. On that challenge, we flew down to Florida and our flight was delayed, so we got two sleeps in a hotel. Everyone was just completely out of it. I think I was just emotionally and physically tired.
You seemed so put together, though, you didn’t really cry — no one this season cried much.
No one had to cry because Mah-Jing had all the tears for everybody. [Laughs.]
A lot of fans have appreciated how there was such great camaraderie this season among the designers. Did it feel that way from the designers’ perspectives as well?
Yeah, definitely. Casting did a really, really good job this year because … everyone was really cool and had a unique background. Everyone [was] really genuine, and even if someone is a little dramatic or says some stuff that’s a little sassy, it wasn’t that bad. Genuinely, everyone was really good.
The only times it didn’t feel like that was the last group challenge, when you were paired with Cornelius and Dexter. What do you think went wrong there?
I was absolutely heartbroken when I saw the edit of that episode. Dexter and I were never rude to Cornelius — at all. Actually, we got along really well. Our whole time working, we were laughing with Cornelius. On his own, he’s just a worry worm. He kind of always had that stressed out feeling, but after the critique with Tim, Cornelius was so psyched because Tim loved our [looks], so actually all of us worked together really well.
Who did you think was your biggest threat throughout the season?
People ask me that all the time. I think threat seems so aggressive. I was like, “Anyone can win!”
Okay, maybe not threat, but strongest competitor?
I feel like Laurence was as far as design goes… but again not a threat because she’s not my aesthetic at all. No one really was, and no one really had anyone else’s aesthetic. That’s the other good thing about this season is, everyone had their own personal aesthetic that they were into. We were all very much individuals in that way.
Out of the final four collections, which worried you the most?
I wouldn’t say worried, but more so surprised: Laurence’s collection. I was expecting black leather jacket, like badass. And then I saw it, and was like, Oh my gosh she went so sweet and soft. I was like, “You gave us all a surprise.”
You always had such ambitious projects with such little time and never stressed — which we even saw in your final runway collection. When Tim came 10 days before NYFW, you didn’t have any garments completed. How do you stay so calm?
I don’t know what it is; it’s just innately in me to be like that. I had some freakout moments for sure, but I was like, ultimately, I’m not going to stress out about this because at the end of the day I knew it was going to be done. So it’s not like I was, “I’m not going to have this done.” I was like “Whatever — worse comes to worse, I can’t get what I imagined to be done, but I could get something done.” Just from being on this show, I learned to make an outfit in a day.
Also, I have to know: How were you not bothered by handling mealworms!?
I don’t know! I was just like, this is going to be great TV! They were so disgusting, [but] I was like, whatever people touch this stuff all the time; it’s not going to kill me.
What was your favorite look from the season?
I’m not a favorites kind of person… but… my favorite runway [was] the blacklight challenge. The whole crew was super excited to have this daylight to blacklight. The energy in the room was special. It felt like we were kids like, “Oh my god. How does this react? What does this do?” It was really fun.
What is your favorite look from another designer from the entire season?
There’s two: I really liked Dexter’s fringe dress for the blacklight challenge. And I also really liked Laurence’s cocktail challenge dress with the Chesterfield sleeve.
Looking back on the season, what’s one look you wish you could change?
It would probably be my mom’s. … I didn’t get to put sleeves on it because I didn’t have time. I wanted to give my mom something fitted because her body type is hard to find anything that fits and is cool, so I just gave myself so many challenges.
Your mom seemed to like it, though?
My mom’s so cute. She’s like, “I’ll like anything that you like.” I was like, “Mom, help me out!” It was a little difficult in that way because I really like when someone can be like, “I like this” or “I don’t like that” and direct me in one way. But when it’s so open, it’s hard to decide where to go.
She didn’t seem as open as Jenni’s mom though?
Jenni’s mom was like, “I want this and then that and then that,” and my mom was like, “Whatever you want!”
So what’s next for you?
I’m in the process of figuring out exactly what I’m doing. I want to work on commissions and one-of-a-kind pieces of clothing. I really like fashion as art and making something for someone that’s completely special and unique to them.
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