BOSTON GLOBE: Nasturtium Celebration honors Bill Cunningham

Hundreds of people attended the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s annual celebration of spring on Wednesday with nasturtium cocktails, jazz, and Gardner-inspired fashions by Project Runway winner Erin Robertson. This year’s Nasturtium Celebration — so named for the brightly colored edible flower — was held in honor of the life of New York Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, who died last year at the age of 87.

MIND BODY GREEN: Meet The Project Runway Winner Who's Trying To Make Us All Environmentalists

by Emma Loewe, MBG Editorial January 23, 2017

A few weeks ago, Erin Robertson, a recent fashion school grad with an affinity for bright colors, handmade textiles, and bananas, won the 15th season of Project Runway

In case you haven't caught it before, the TV show seeks to find up-and-coming designers who are shaping the future of fashion, with past winners including notable names like Christian Siriano and Leanne Marshall. If Robertson's win is a sign of what's about to show up in our closets, expect to see a lot of pop-y clothing that just so happens to be incredibly sustainable.

Initially inspired by a conversation with friends about the Pacific trash vortex, Robertson has made a name for herself crafting handmade clothes from unconventional materials.

"That conversation made me think about how I could take my passion for creating clothes and use it in a meaningful way that would hopefully do something," she tells mindbodygreen.

Traditional fabrics like nylon and polyester require a ton of water and a good amount of chemicals to create—a fact that's just starting to creep into the mainstream consciousness. The rise of more responsible options like bamboo, tencel, and organic cotton speaks to a growing shift in consumer preferences. 

Robertson steps a bit deeper into this eco-friendly ethos by creating fabric out of materials like bubblegum, wigs, and worms. Yes, you read that right. She clenched the first Project Runway challenge with a yellow dress fashioned from wigs, gumballs, and beads. In later episodes, she totally reimagined wire fencing and somehow managed to turn dried mealworms and guitar picks into a work of art.

Her work outside of the show proves just as impressive. She made "Plashion," a gorgeous 6-look line showcasing plastic bags and recycled materials, to raise awareness about the danger of single-use plastics. Her models turned the streets of downtown Boston into their runway, donning trash pick-up tools called "selfless sticks," a play on the selfie stick.

"They walked as a group, kind of like a pool of fish, and picked up trash," Robertson explains. "It was amazing—people were taking pictures with their phones and asking me questions about it. I saw in that moment how you could attract attention using fashion."

She hopes Project Runway will help her start more environmental conversations using clothing. With her eyes set on MIT's Media Lab, a design hub dreaming up better-for-the-planet tech, she's looking to explore new eco-materials like Bionic Yarn, made from recycled water bottles, as well as produce some of her own.

"I want to create a business that is very true to my aesthetic but has a really intense sustainable backbone to it. It's actually pretty challenging—it's going to be a really fun research period to figure out how to do it."

Considering her talent, creativity, and totally fresh perspective, we're betting mealworm dresses may be hitting stores sooner than you think.

IMPROPER BOSTONIAN: BEHIND THE SEAMS

Photo Credit: Holly Rike

Photo Credit: Holly Rike

By Meghan Kavanaugh | Feb. 24, 2017

Project Runway Season 15 winner Erin Robertson has barely had time to catch her breath since taking home the design competition’s top prize in December’s finale, a feat the former dental assistant achieved just months after finishing up a dual degree program at MassArt. “I haven’t stopped,” Robertson says. “I was a pretty intense college student. … It’s just transitioned into a different kind of nonstop.” She’s working on an “overwhelming” number of commissions—some taking the Central Square resident as far as Zurich to make deliveries—as well as a textile design project with painter and fellow MassArt alum Jordan Piantedosi, who gave Robertson a hand with her finale collection. The latest inspiration? “I just want pink everything,” Robertson says. “I think it’s going into and touching base on female power and that whole movement.”

For now, Robertson is keeping her own personal schedule, eschewing the fashion calendar to focus on starting a business and creating a brand identity. She plans to continue collaborating with friends from MassArt and explore new connections at MIT, perhaps as a sustainable textile technology student or a participant in the Media Lab. “That’s one of the reasons why I love Massachusetts and Cambridge,” she says. “There’s just innovation, and people are working on such cool projects.” Regardless of what comes next, Robertson trusts her intuition to guide her toward the right move—a lesson she took from her time on the show. “We don’t have contact with the outside world, so there’s a lot of reflection that you do,” Robertson explains. “I learned how to really think about listening to my gut brain rather than my brain brain. The gut brain is so important, and you need to listen to that.”

‘PROJECT RUNWAY’ SEASON 15 WINNER ANNOUNCED: COULD THIS BE THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL PICK EVER?

Project Runway just announced their Season 15 winner! The show that stars the incomparable Tim Gunn as the designer’s mentor, model Heidi Klum as host and judge, Nina Garcia, judge and Creative Editor for Marie Claire, acclaimed fashion designer Zac Posen round off the regular judges with Shake It Up star and fashion designer in her own right, Zendaya as the guest judge for this spectacular finale. Anyone who has not seen the finale nor wants spoilers please stop reading now and please return back once you have seen the finale on Lifetime. We don’t want to ruin the fun!

If you always thought that if you lived back in the 60s and would have dug Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground, this season’s Project Runway is the litmus test. Considered a visionary and artist all the way to wacky and cartoonish, the controversial and innovative Erin Robertson was announced the winner of Project Runway Season 15.

The disruptive designer, originally from Provo, Utah and now from Boston MA, was selected from four finalists. Her finale collection was a tribute to innovation, color, and texture. Her fashion forward designs and aesthetic have a fresh look and her runway show entitled “Project Funway” emitted an aesthetically pleasing visual appeal. Yet, it is her small detailing is what she does best and packs the biggest punch. Her innovation with ornamentation such as fishing lures or laser-cut plexiglass discs that are sewn onto her dresses creates a soft rustle as the model walks by, adding more to the runway experience.

Her runway show demonstrated her mastery with color, her love of innovation and her sense of whimsy. Her models walked down the runway in tinted glasses, perhaps a hint of how Erin sees the world? Her fashion forward show paired yellow with pink, copper with reds, and ended with a shiny leather suit with a repeated design of a hand holding a banana.

Her obvious power color is yellow and nothing says Erin more than a banana! This is because Erin Robertson is not just a designer. She is an artist. Bananas on fabric is so absurdly cool. She has the sort of humor of an artist and disrupter like Andy Warhol. Her love of bananas is reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s Velvet Underground cover with a banana on it.

The late 60s band with Lou Reed, John Cale, and cool blonde Nico were all about the banana. Erin has brought back that sort of 60s artistic vibe to fashion.

Fans of Robertson who have been following her on Instagram have gotten such treats as her creative Madonna costume for Heidi’s Halloween party (was this a clue that Erin was the winner?) or her recent creation of fantasy shoes that are made of plexiglass, leather, and 3-D resin. These are the modern day Cinderella slipper!

While Erin has received praise from the Project Runway judges and leagues of fans, there are others who are haters. Critics like fashion bloggers Tom and Lorenzo have blasted some of Robertson’s looks as obviously inspired by the architectural innovation of Delpozo. While she has taken this inspiration, Erin has certainly made it her own, not unlike what author Austin Kleon preaches to artists of all mediums in his exceptional book “How To Steal Like An Artist.” In addition, no one had ever questioned Erin about this influence. In other seasons, designers have been called out for copying other designers.

Erin’s foray into fashion and design was not a straight forward shot. Early in the season, Robertson explained that she was a “half-Mormon” that lived a sheltered life and never watched television and had escaped Utah and went to live with her dad in Boston. There, she started to work at a dentist’s office where her boss there saw something special in her love of design. At her Tim Gunn visit, Erin explained how she was encouraged her to explore her design aesthetic. During the season Erin explained that she is a tactile designer and finds that in the unconventional challenges, she enjoys that creating her own “fabrics.” This is where she feels she can create real innovation.

Yellow and pink fashion forward looks by Erin Robertson were a part of the reason that made her the winner of the ‘Project Runway’ Season 15. [Image by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]

Yellow and pink fashion forward looks by Erin Robertson were a part of the reason that made her the winner of the ‘Project Runway’ Season 15. [Image by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]

In her recent conversation with Hollywood Life, Erin envisioned her design career as becoming much, much more. She has more future projects planned and this includes more with Project Runway and an undisclosed project with MIT.

“I really want to be a part of the next wave,”

Project Runway Season 15 started out with 16 designers and after a cornucopia of challenges, there were four designers who remained to show their collections at NYFW. These designers were Erin Robertson, Laurence Basse, Rik Villa, and Roberi Parra.

From early in Season 15, the obvious judge’s favorite has been Erin Robertson. Her use of bright colors like yellow and pinks, obviously made the editor eye of Nina Garcia just scream with joy. How many seasons has Nina screamed at the designers to use color? Every season.

During the season, three of the four final designers won two challenges, while Erin won three challenges, with two of these challenges being the fan favorite unconventional challenges. In fact, fans thought she should have won the final unconventional challenge as well.

Project Runway Season 15 may go down as the unconventional season. There have been a total of three unconventional challenges, which sandwiched the entire season. This included an unconventional party challenge to kick off the season and two back-to-back unconventional challenges, including an avant-garde twist in the first of the last two unconventional challenges, that ended the season to determine the final four finalists. This could be the very first Project Runway season where there has been no red carpet challenge nor have any gowns been made.

The Project Runway Season 15 group of designers has been a mainly “street” group, hand picked by Tim Gunn. Last season, Tim had expressed his dissatisfaction with Season 14 as he felt they were not “hungry” enough. Uncharacteristically, Gunn trashed the Season 14 winner, plus-sized designer Ashley Tipton for making “hideous” clothing. He thought glitzy designer Kelly Dempsey should have won because he felt she was more hungry, in a season of designers that were rather lazy in their work ethic.

Are you happy Erin Robertson was the winner of Project Runway Season 15? Who do you think should have won?

Massachusetts 'Project Runway' contestant Erin Robertson wins season 15

MassArt graduate and Cambridge resident Erin Robertson won the 15th season of Project Runway with a New York Fashion Week collection that judge Heidi Klum described as "quirky," "gutsy" and "exciting."

In the season finale, judges Heidi Klum, Nina Garcia, Zach Posen and guest judge Zendaya gave Robertson all positive remarks, complimenting how playful and colorful her collection was.

"I think you balanced the 'kooky' with the chic very well," said Zendaya. 

Robertson took a moment to reflect on her past work and stated, "I've never been pushed this hard before, it made me grow. This journey has been absolutely unreal...I'm just like, 'who was that at the beginning?' Because I feel totally changed."

Originally from Provo, Utah, Robertson moved to Boston in 2005 to pursue a career in dentistry, but decided to seek a career in a more creative field. 

According to her website, Robertson has returned home to Cambridge, to focus on "private commission work and her application to MIT, where she hopes to study sustainable textile technology." 

BOSTON GLOBE: Cambridge’s Erin Robertson wins ‘Project Runway’ with style and humor

Project Runway finalist Erin Robertson, center, with Christian Restrepo, left, and Michaela Bosch during the watch party at Capo in South Boston Thursday night.

Project Runway finalist Erin Robertson, center, with Christian Restrepo, left, and Michaela Bosch during the watch party at Capo in South Boston Thursday night.

South Boston’s Capo restaurant was festooned with sunshine-colored balloons Thursday night, symbolically shining down on the evening’s honoree, Erin Robertson. And on a dark winter’s night, it did feel bright and sunny for Robertson, 29, the Cambridge designer and textile artist who that night was voted winner of “Project Runway.”

Inside the restaurant lounge, Robertson – who was decked out in a dress that matched the balloons – was glowing. “What I love is fun,” she said. “I’m always trying to be fun, fun, fun.”

In fact, Robertson loves fun so much that she presented her final collection on the Lifetime fashion competition as “Project Funway.”

Actress, singer, and finale guest judge Zendaya summed up Robertson’s style and her collection: “As fun and as kooky as it was, it felt very expensive and very cohesive at the same time.”

At the viewing party Thursday, Robertson was joined at Capo by fellow contestants -- and Boston-area locals -- Cornelius Ortiz and Nathalia JMag.

Since breaking into the fashion scene while attending the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Robertson has made her mark as an eccentric young designer with a strong vibe of humor and levity. She once created a dress for a MassArt show that was topped with Doritos. On “Project Runway,” she constructed a bright yellow dress (notice there’s a yellow theme in her life) made of bubblegum and wigs.

“I just love colors,” she said.

Robertson with fellow contestants Cornelius Ortiz, left, and Nathalia JMag.

Robertson with fellow contestants Cornelius Ortiz, left, and Nathalia JMag.

Born and raised in Utah to a Mormon family, Robertson dropped out of high school and moved east, eventually landing a job as a dental assistant at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. It was there that a co-worker inspired her to start thinking about fashion, which eventually brought her to MassArt in 2012.

By 2013, her sophomore year, Robertson had won the CDFA/Teen Vogue Target Scholar award, a prestigious accolade for a young designer -- and one that earned her the attention of the fashion world.

The light, color-filled aesthetic has always been central to her designs, especially in her emphasis on yellow. In the fashion world, she is drawn to Delpozo and Kenzo, two fashion houses known for their use of color.

But then there is her whimsy. Robertson hands out business cards shaped like bananas. The fruit is woven into her fashion as well, adorning dresses and even the phone case she carries. When asked about the banana obsession, she simply said, “It’s a really great fruit.”

On “Project Runway,” Robertson came out strong but late in the season there was buzz on the social media that she had lost her edge and would not prevail. Last night’s victory was a vindication.

Designer and “Runway” judge Zac Posen lauded the winner: Robertson “is humor and she is craft. To me, she’s the full package.”

From left, Nathalia JMag, Robertson, Jordan Pianedosi, and Cornelius Ortiz photographed themselves during Thursday’s watch party.

From left, Nathalia JMag, Robertson, Jordan Pianedosi, and Cornelius Ortiz photographed themselves during Thursday’s watch party.