Library’s ‘Project Runway’ contest goes patriotic

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published June 23, 2015

 Past contestants from a “Project Runway” contest at the Sterling Heights Public Library display a customized “little black dress.”

Past contestants from a “Project Runway” contest at the Sterling Heights Public Library display a customized “little black dress.”

Photo provided by Barbara Van Havermaat


STERLING HEIGHTS — Red, white and blue are likely to be among the summer fashion colors on display during the June 27 all-American edition of the Sterling Heights Public Library’s “Project Runway” series of fashion contests.

Library public relations and programs coordinator Jason Groth said the library has held similar “Project Runway” events in the past, and he said the contests are a form of career preparation for some teens.

“It gets teens to think creatively,” Groth said. “It gets them outside the normal day-to-day activities.”

Public services librarian Barbara Van Havermaat explained that the contest has teams of two — a model and a designer — work together to make and display an outfit made out of certain required materials. Past materials have included paper, but to accompany the all-American theme this time, the contest will require an outfit composed of a plain pair of blue jeans and a T-shirt of any solid color, she said.

Van Havermaat said the goal is to create a patriotically themed ensemble, and examples could include a modern-day take on Lady Liberty or clothes that incorporate red, white and blue.

“They can embellish it or do whatever they want to the jeans,” she said. “If they think of things like individuality, (they can) shred it up or make it look rugged-looking, bring in markers or paint stripes, use glitter glue and put gold stars over something.”

She said she expects about 40 people to attend, which makes about 20 teams. The fashion designers have to find their own models.

This time, the event has expanded the age range for participants, which had been limited to teens in grades 6-12. Now male and female teens or young adults ages 13-22 may compete, she said.

“We have kids that are graduating soon,” she explained. “Some of the kids who have done this, they are aging out of the program (as it had been before), and we want to still have it for them.”

Every “Project Runway” participant will get a small patriotic prize, and gift cards will be awarded to some of the top contestants, Van Havermaat said.

The all-American edition of a teen “Project Runway”-style fashion design contest will start at 2 p.m. June 27 at the Sterling Heights Public Library, 40255 Dodge Park Road. Register or learn more by visiting or by calling (586) 446-2644.