Runaway Artist

Taos Pueblo native and fashion designer, Patricia Michaels, will be one of 16 talented fashion designers from across the United States competing for the top spot on the Lifetime hit show, “Project Runway” (season 11) which debuts at 8 p.m. (MST) on Jan. 24 on Lifetime.

Images of the Town of Taos and Taos Pueblo may be featured in the show along with the many designs Michaels created that were inspired by Taos and Taos Pueblo.

“My inspiration comes from the beauty of nature beauty of Taos and on my heritage at Taos Pueblo. For example, I created a pattern on silk charmeuse simply by looking at how rain falls on a window and interpreting its texture and form in my design,” Michaels said. “When the clouds are rolling in and holding rain – there’s a ‘female’ rain which has hues of lavender that seems soft, and there is a ‘male’ rain which consists of dark thunderclouds that are a combination of black and white. That’s what I love about being a Native American designer is that my designs are are abstract, not literal, because they are interpretations of nature.”

Michaels auditioned in 2012 for “Project Runway’s” season 11 at the encouragement of the show’s producers who were familiar with her work.

Michaels’ career spans almost 30 years, starting with the Institute of American Indian Arts where she studied graphic design, jewelry and traditional techniques; later working in Chicago at the Field Museum and at an art gallery; and living in Milan, Italy where she apprenticed with a tailor. Michaels later brought her son and daughter with her to New York where she worked in the city’s garment district. After two years there, Michaels developed her own collection, becoming the first Native American to feature a label at the prestigious New York Fashion Week.

Now, based back home in Taos, Michaels exhibits her work in a number of museums and at fashion weeks in New York and Santa Fe. In the last two years, her innovative designs have garnered top honors at the Santa Fe Indian Market. Michaels was also featured prominently in the Town of Taos’ 2012 marketing theme which focused on the “Remarkable Women of Taos.” Her biography can be found at

Michaels is excited at the opportunity to compete on “Project Runway” not only because she can share her unique designs with the world, but because of the resulting exposure that Taos and Taos Pueblo may receive. Michaels said that she is less concerned about competing against other designers, and more concerned about representing her Pueblo well.

“Since I was young, I was told that when we leave our village, we represent our people so when we return home we should make them proud. I was taught by the women in my family to walk in grace and that the women from Taos Pueblo are strong but gentle – we have nothing to prove, just that we take care of our family, ourselves, and our culture. I feel the need to go on ‘Project Runway’ to show off the beauty and talents we have to offer at our Pueblo and Town, but I will also remember to be who I am,” Michaels said.

Michaels will join her fans and supporters for the premier of “Project Runway” at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 24 at the Legends Santa Fe Art Gallery in Santa Fe.