Skip to main content

'Project Runway' to Feature Native Designer Patricia Michaels


Patricia Michaels, Taos Pueblo, has been selected as one of the 16 designers who will compete on the upcoming run of the fashion/reality show Project Runway. Premiering January 24 on the Lifetime Network, the season will be Project Runway's eleventh.

Michaels spent a good deal of July and August 2012 in New York City filming the popular series, which is hosted by Heidi Klum and features celebrity stye expert Timothy Gunn. Michaels says she wasn't familiar with the show, but when a casting agent contacted her she rented a couple of past seasons and was sold. "I was in awe of what the challenges were and the opportunities that could happen," she told the Santa Fe New Mexican.

Celebrated Native designers, Michaels says, need to "get out of our comfortable spots and go forward to other venues."

"That’s why I took on this challenge, to have a new direction," she told the New Mexican. "Because just doing museum shows that people want me to do to draw a crowd really hasn’t gotten me anywhere. It’s important to always evolve."

Michaels praises Project Runway as a learning experience -- but don't mistake that for an aversion to competition. Striving to achieve at a high level, she says, is in her blood. "I was raised dancing at pow-wows," she told ABQ Journal. "All my family were championships dancers. I didn’t look at it as competitive; I viewed it as an honor to be with them."

And her chances? "I think I could win ... because no one else can do what I do," she says in a Q&A on the official Project Runway website. "I create from the drape to the pattern to the fabrication to the design. My garments have meaning behind them that comes from a very old culture then brought into a very contemporary realm."

The featured judge for the upcoming season will be designer Zac Posen, and designer Michael Kors will be the final guest judge. Celebrity judges include actresses Bette Midler, Susan Sarandon, Emmy Rossum, and Kristin Davis; country music star Miranda Lambert; singer/songwriter John Legend; and the mother-daughter team of Joan and Melissa Rivers.