Cambridge-based designer Erin Robertson got one hell of a graduation gift: A day before receiving her MassArt diploma, she learned she’d scored a spot as a contestant on season 15 of Project Runway. We got Robertson on the line to talk style and reality TV dirt before the Sept. 15 premiere.
What surprised you about being on the show? That the timing is real. When you’re at Mood, you only have 30 minutes. When you’re going down to the runway, you are going down to the runway. Heidi even made a joke about it, like, “You guys are always surprised!”
So how would you describe your aesthetic? I definitely am into duality, so I love having humor, but also this sense of super seriousness. Flirty, but also really structured—I’m into having these two different worlds coming together as one. I’m usually into a lot of color, humor and sexuality.
Is Tim Gunn as nice in person as he seems on TV? He’s nicer. He is the sweetest. And he’s very neutral; I didn’t see him favor anyone. He’s just a very good human being and a very good mentor, because he makes you question yourself in all the right ways. At least for me, it was never like, “Erin, do this.” It was just about making me question myself in a really beautiful mentoring way.
What’s something you learned from the experience? I think the coolest thing that I learned is working from your gut. That’s the cool thing about Project Runway, because you are under these crazy time restrictions and have these insane parameters of whatever the challenge is, you have to work from the spot of your creative brain and your gut that you don’t experience on a normal basis.
One item in your closet you cannot live without? I’d have to say my glitter Miu Mius that a friend of mine got me on sale at Saks—pointy silver and baby blue Mary Jane Miu Mius.
Looking back, what was your most regrettable fashion phase? I used to shop at Hot Topic. Ew, those roses and skull shoes! [Laughs.] It’s crazy that there wasn’t Instagram back in the day, so I didn’t know how to dress! Kids have it so easy these days.
Boston gets a bum rap for being unfashionable—justified? Oh yeah, for sure. But, like, I don’t care! I don’t need to be living in a stylish city—I love Boston because there are so many interesting people because of all the colleges. I don’t need to be around people that are dressed fashionably for them to be interesting. I’m not a big fan of all the sports gear though. [Laughs.]