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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. Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

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.Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

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. Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe