Thursday, November 12, 2015

Westlake Teen Stars in First Project Runway Junior Competition

Photo by Barbara Nitke
Victoria Cohen is bringing spunk to the first-ever season of Project Runway Junior on Lifetime. The show will host a dozen fashion designers ages 13 to 17 as they vie for a $25,000 cash prize and a feature in Seventeen Magazine by showcasing their design skills in front of a panel of judges that include host Tim Gunn, Kelly Osbourne and Aya Kanai, the executive fashion editor of Cosmopolitan and Seventeen Magazine. Despite the national spotlight her designs will have when the first episode airs at 9 p.m. Nov. 12, 17-year-old Westlake native Victoria is more than a reality TV star: She's showed her designs at Cleveland Fashion Week 2015, studied at School of Rock, toured with her band Rockapocalypse and launched her own graphic T-shirt line PUNX. "A really big part of me is self-expression," she says. We chatted with Victoria about her local roots, how they inspired her and pushed her to the fashion stage of New York City.

CM: How did you get into fashion design?
V: I've been watching Project Runway since the very first season when I was 6 years old.  I always sketched and I always wanted to be a fashion designer, but I never really did anything about it.  But then I heard that Cleveland had a fashion week. The summer before, I started making T-shirts. I called the director and she reviewed some of my work and then they said that I could show, so I started working on my collection. That is when I really knew that I wanted to be a designer.

CM: Do you see the potential for a fashion industry in Cleveland?
V: When I go to New York, it's draining, and it's like a competition. In New York, a lot of people kind of get faded out but I feel like if I were able to bring a fashion scene to Cleveland, it would definitely catch a lot of attention because the people who will succeed and who have the passion — they're gonna shine. I identify with Cleveland. It just feels like home to me.

CM: How do you think your time on the show has influenced you as a designer and do you feel like your art has changed from it?
V: I think [designing] is definitely a part of my identity but being on the show, I think I found another side of myself. I don't ever want to be identified as just one thing. I have lots of ideas and I think I just need to take time to really define them. I think being on the show helped me find who I was and see kind of all of my creativity, rather than just 'I am this designer'.

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