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Up Close and Personal with Miranda Levy
How the "Project Runway" star landed the gig of a lifetime.


A screenshot of Miranda on the first episode of "Project Runway" season 12.

It's State Fair 2013 and I'm walking around with a few of my friends. As we pass a group of teenage girls, one of them looks up, gasps and announces "OH MY GOD!!!! IT'S MIRANDA FROM 'PROJECT RUNWAY'!"

Photos are taken, and I watch a young girl legitimately freak out and shake as she greeted Miranda. Her beaming father tells us: "We were just watching the show before we came here." So this is what fame looks like, I thought.

How did this start? Let's back up.

I was zoning out a little after a fashion show last winter at the Milwaukee Art Museum, when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I looked up to see an incredibly well dressed young lady with dark hair and thick glasses "Hey! Are you Lyneé? I'm Miranda Levy," she stated. And I was hooked. 

Miranda Levy's good friend had told us about each other, saying we were destined to meet. Miranda had been trying out for the past 2 years to be a designer on Project Runway. "Will you try again this year?" I asked her. Miranda nodded and said, "I think so."

Fast forward to spring 2013, and I found myself in Miranda's apartment with local makeup artist Michael Weiss. We were getting three models ready for Miranda's interview with "Project Runway" producers. This would be her third time trying out, and something deep inside me said it was going to happen. As I put vintage waves in the models hair, Michael picked out the perfect red lip for them. I piled my new friends into my car and we set off for Miranda's interview at the James Hotel in Chicago.


From left: Michael Weiss, Miranda Levy and me the morning of her "Project Runway" interview.

When we got there, it was surprisingly quiet. The fact that "Project Runway" casting was going on was pretty hush hush. We were ushered into a waiting room where the rest of the potential designers were waiting. That's where we came face to face with Timothy Westbrook, the Pfister's former Artist-in-Residence. He was bubbling with excitement over the whole experience. 

An assistant swiftly introduced herself to Miranda and began attaching a microphone to her for the interview. Then she whisked her and the models away to an "off limits" room. I sat there waiting with Timothy Westbrook, looking over the garments he was going to present during his interview. There were only a handful of potential "Project Runway" designers in the waiting room at a time, each person traveling from surrounding Midwest states. It got really quiet, so I decided to sit there and silently study the other contestants. 

Within a few minutes I heard a commotion in the hallway. I saw Miranda and her models bounding towards me. Miranda's model Kayla Brooks got closer and whispered "Tim Gunn was there!"

I looked at Miranda who was clearly having a moment. She muttered: "He said, 'See you in New York.'"


Miranda and her models at the James Hotel. From left: Kayla Brooks, Dana Joy Jacobson, and Elise Hanson.

Now, no one officially knew that Miranda was leaving for "Project Runway," or that she found out for certain that she was going. However, the last time she was in to get her hair done with me, I couldn't help but give her a few camera ready tips and a lesson on getting her signature "vintage wave" hair perfect every time.

Shortly after that Miranda disappeared, with only a few postings a week on her Facebook of silly cat Youtube videos. A few weeks later the secret was out, and "Project Runway" released a photo of the new season 12 contestants. I scanned the photo for Miranda and also found another familiar face, that of Timothy Westbrook.  The burning question you want to ask: Was the feud between Miranda and Timothy made for TV? Well no, not exactly. It was very real, but they've since shook hands over their differences and called a truce. 

All the episodes of "Project Runway" were filmed in five weeks, except for the very last episode which will be filmed next week at New York Fashion Week, where the winner will be crowned. 

Every Thursday we meet at Harbor House for a "Project Runway" viewing party around 7:30 p.m. Want to meet Miranda? Join us! A raffle also takes place for a Harbor House dinner with Miranda. 

Looking to get your hands on your own Miranda Levy design? She offers a "dress of the month" and it's available for purchase here.




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