A local 17-year-old is garnering national attention as she competes on the first season of Lifetime's Project Runway Junior.
Victoria Cohen, a senior at Westlake High School, is in the fashion design competiton that began with 12 young style mavens.
Although she found out she made it onto the show over the summer, she had to keep it a secret from everyone but her family members until closer to the airing of the show. While filming, she told her frends she had taken a writing intership. "It wasn't hard [to keep the filming a secret]," she said. "It's Project Runway - you do what you're supposed to do."
Cohen describes herself as a "diehard Project Runway fan," so is it particularly jarring to watch herself every week on one of her favorite TV series franchises? Not quite. "I thought I'd be more freaked out than I was," she said. "A part of it is surreal - it's cool and surreal."
She had an overwhelmingly positive experience filming the show - especially with regard to her interactions with the judges and contestant mentor Tim Gunn. "Tim Gunn is everything that you see on TV and more - he's the most genuic person I ever met, and so smart," she said. "Kelly Osborne gives great feedback ... Christian [Siriano] is a sweetheart ... and Aya [Kanai] has a more critical eye. Having that mix [of judges] is good for the show."
Cohen said her work is inspired by the punk movement and dressing with confidence in a laid-back way. She also finds inspiration in different cultures around the world. "I'm aiming to create peices that people haven't seen before," she said.
Cohen isn't new to the runway; she showed a collection at last year's Fashion Week Cleveland. And she can trace her love for fashion even further back than that. At the age of 3, she loved posing for photos, and by the time she was 6, she was putting together her own outfits. "I've been into fashion and creativity for as long as I can remember," she said.
This spring, Cohen said she is "almost positively" showing her work somewhere and is currently looking for sponsors. Last year, she funded her Fashion Week Cleveland collection from her earnings from a part-time job, but this year, between college visits, Project Runway Junior, touring with her band, and her regular school work, there is understandably little to no room in her schedule for a regular part-time job.
To learn more about Cohen and to see some of her work, visit www.punxclothing.com.
Project Runway Junior airs on Thursdays at 9 p.m. on Lifetime.
Photos by Barbara Nitke. Copyright 2015