Erin Robertson arrived at her “Project Runway” audition wearing a glittery top, glittery pants, and towering cat-printed Miu Miu pumps, because why not?
The recent MassArt grad, 29, is slated to appear on the show’s 15th season, which kicks off Sept. 15 on Lifetime.
Behind the glitter and valley-girl drawl, artistically-minded Robertson is as intelligent as she is dazzling.
The bespectacled, ice-blonde fashion maven is something of a rarity in Boston, a city that isn’t known for breaking boundaries artistically or in fashion. But she likes it that way.
“I don’t think Boston is fashionable by any means—Boston’s never tried to be fashionable and I don’t think it ever will be, to be honest. But I think that Boston has something else that’s cooler,” she says. For Roberston, that “coolness” is the constant innovation going on around the Hub; whether the cutting-edge ideas are coming from artists or engineers, she explains that it’s all relevant.
As a fashion design and fibers double major, Robertson is fascinated by the structure of garments and creates her own textiles. After sheepishly admitting that I didn’t know what “fibers” was, Robertson says with a laugh, “it’s the coolest.”
With her background in fibers, Robertson easily toes the line between designer and artist.
“[Fibers] is a way for me to be in an art world rather than a design world, so that in and of itself is really spectacular,” she says. “It gave me a different way to think about why I make something.”
Her most recent project was a live installation of sorts, seeking to bring awareness to the environmental impact of single-use plastics, like soda bottles and plastic bags. Robertson designed six looks, completed with trash picks (dubbed “selfless sticks”). Not quite a fashion show—Robertson’s models were decked out and assigned to collect trash on the streets of Boston. “When people asked [what we were doing] I could talk to them about single-use plastics,” Robertson says.
She concludes her explanation of this multifaceted art piece rather humbly: “I was just playing with the idea of using fashion as a tool to talk about something difficult.”
Robertson hopes to apply to the MIT Media Lab and continue her exploration of textiles in a more innovative, technology-driven way. “I was thinking about where I belong in the fashion industry and I don’t necessarily think I want to be part of exactly what the fashion industry is,” she says before quickly defending herself: “I don’t mean that in a bad way, I love fashion, obviously. But I want to be part of it more in the future of textiles.”
Robertson cites MIT’s Neri Oxman, who works with 3-D textiles in her research, as one of her idols. The 3-D-printed fashion movement is something that Robertson sees herself becoming a part of, both for the aesthetic appeal and the more sustainable approach (3-D-printed plastics can be recycled materials).
But before embarking on her next creative adventure, Robertson — like the rest of us — is eagerly awaiting the remaining episodes of “Project Runway” to air. “I’m not worried about how it comes out,” she says, “I think that whatever is edited and put in it, regardless it’s gonna be good. I’m proud of whatever I did on there, it’s just going to be crazy to see.”
When asked about the ditzy, though charming “Project Runway” persona, Robertson is shockingly indifferent. “It’s one of my favorite things: I kind of like to come off like this ‘dumb blonde’ girl, but there is something more to it for me” she notes. “A cool thing about fashion is identity, and it’s kind of fun to trick people into thinking you’re possibly a little more oblivious than you are.”