Patricia Michaels

Age 46, Taos Pueblo, NM- Out Episode 14
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Q. Describe your family.

A. I come from Taos Pueblo, New Mexico. My family and I are active members of our Native heritage and diverse with many other cultures. My village is over 1,500 years old. It was a main crossroads pre-Columbus. Our Taos Pueblo is set up in beautiful structures of adobe buildings that make a huge center for trade, dances and songs. Because of our history we have been given the responsibility to be open to the outside world for good trade, song, dance and culture. I was told that when we leave our village we represent our people and so when we return home we should make them proud and don't bring home shame. Being traditional doesn't mean we aren't allowed to explore the world; we just can't forget where we come from. We travel keeping in mind that the land, water, people and animals are to be respected. My son Gabriel recently graduated from Vancouver Film School in British Columbia. He is brilliant with his films; they are either funny or profound. He is compassionate, loving and considerate. He also has a beautiful voice (he is a tenor) and loves to play his guitar. I enjoy many of his songs that he writes and produces. Margeaux is a beautiful teen full of ambition. She is recently applying for art school. She wants to be an installation artist. I love her creative ability to draw anything from characters to organic life. She is also a wonderful writer, and I hope she picks it up again. My lovely daughter has modeled for me since she could walk. I never forced my children to be creative; it's just that they have something to say and this is how they want to express themselves. I love them both for being strong enough at such a young age to value what is in their hearts and share an artistic expression of it. They are amazing. My mother, Juanita Turley, and my stepfather, Frank Turley, are beyond words of hearts of all hearts. There isn't a person they would not help and give their loving support to. I have been given so much by their unconditional love that I couldn't ever find words or enough ways to give back. They both are championship Pow Wow dancers. Frank runs a world-renowned blacksmith shop, Turley Forge, and travels all over the world giving workshops. I have a sister named Esther, and her husband, Carl, with their whole family of four beautiful children, nine wonderful grandchildren and one amazing great-grandchild. I love love them all very much. They are supportive of me and my work, and I of them as they grow up. We have loads of fun and tears too, but that's what makes family strong and real. My sister Kathleen Michaels works at Millicent Rogers Museum. My brother, Craig Marcus, works with California tribes. I live with my companion, James, who has endless patience and support for me. He has been willing to understand a whole new world of art that I'm in every day. We enjoy our children, his two children and my two children. We love our horses, ceremonies, camping, hunting, going to art shows and both our huge families.   

Q. Current occupation? 

A. Fashion and textile design.

Q. Past jobs?

A. Gallery owner, arts & antiques dealer.

Q. Pets?

A. Nine horses.

Q. Nicknames?

A. Pat, short for Patricia.

Q. When did you realize you had designer potential?

A. Second grade.

Q. First garment you ever made?

A. Doll clothing, and some of them were fully beaded at age 9.

Q. What's your design training/schooling, etc.?

A. Institute of American Indian Art, Chicago Art Institute, work with a tailor in Italy.

Q. Have you won any awards for your designs/work related to design?

A. Best of Textiles at Southwestern Association for Indian Arts, 2011. I never entered competitions before.

Q. Strengths as a designer?

A. I approach design from a contemporary Native American view.

Q. Weaknesses as a designer?

A. I take longer to complete a garment, because of the unique textile fabrication.

Q. What are your influences?

A. I've recently based my collections on water, circle of life, and eagle feathers. I still look to nature for my inspiration. It calms me in a very busy industry.

Q. What's playing on your iPod when you're designing?

A. I don't have one. If I did it would classical, since that is how I like to start the morning.

Q. Favorite material or fabric to work with?

A. Silks.

Q. Item you're most proud of designing?

A. Parasols.

Q. Favorite designer(s)?

A. Tom Ford, Prada, Diesel, Balenciaga, Coco Chanel, Etro, Alexander McQueen, Diane von Furstenberg, Stella McCartney.

Q. Sketch or drape?

A. Drape.

Q. Patterns or solids?

A. Patterns.

Q. Favorite colors?

A. I don't limit myself to colors; the natural world always surprises me with the beauty of color.

Q. Biggest fear as a designer?

A. Not to be able to design.

Q. Fashion must?

A. Forward thinking.

Q. Fashion faux pas that drives you crazy?

A. Another headdress on the runway and another typical fringed jacket.

Q. Ugliest item of clothing/accessory you've worn?

A. Fake moccasins and buckskin dress on a movie set.

Q. Favorite style icon?

A. Anna Wintour, Audrey Hepburn, Madonna, Angelina Jolie, Grace Kelly, Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Q. What would you design for the first lady?

A. It would have to be an empire-waistline dress. I would use a textured wool for the bodice and my silk print fabric with abstract imagery for the bottom of the dress.

Q. Celebrity you wish you could design for?

A. Drew Barrymore.

Q. Favorite supermodel muse?

A. Uma Thurman, Naomi Campbell, Heidi Klum, Linda Evangelista, Kate Moss.

Q. If you had to name your label, you'd call it...

A. PMWaterlily.

Q. If you weren't designing, you'd be...

A. Crazy.

Q. Places/cultures you wish you could design for?

A. Europe.

Q. Dream place to set up your business?

A. My land in Arroyo Seco. Then NYC.

Q. Websites that feature your work?

A. www.pmwaterlily.com, www.claymoproduction.com, www.jenniferesperanza.com, www.taospueblo.com

Q. How were you described as a kid?

A. Impetuous, full of curiosity.

Q. How are you described by your family and friends?

A. Working at odd times during the 24-hour day, with much energy.

Q. Why do you think you're easy to live with?

A. Yes, I'm easygoing, as long as you have energy to keep on an even keel.

Q. Favorite hangout?

A. Ceremonies and studio.

Q. Hobbies?

A. Looking at arts and antiques, reading books with lots of pictures, going to shows, spending time with the horses, going to the mountains, and spending time with family.

Q. Favorite movies and TV shows?

A. Art, foreign, comedy and Native films, "Project Runway," "The Good Wife," "Modern Family," David Letterman.

Q. Favorite books/authors?

A. Art books, auction catalogs.

Q. Favorite websites?

A. www.GILT.com, www.Fab.com

Q. iPhone/Android/Blackberry?

A. Cheap Walmart phone.

Q. Fast food or gourmet?

A. Gourmet.

Q. Cooking or takeout?

A. Cooking.

Q. Favorite foods?

A. Native, chili, Japanese, Korean, Italian, Joseph's Table and European.

Q. Beer or wine?

A. Wine.

Q. Guiltiest pleasure?

A. Cheese.

Q. Biggest pet peeve?

A. Closed-minded attitudes.

Q. How did you end up auditioning for PR?

A. They found me on Model Mayhem and asked me to audition. It was this year, 2012, and I did, so here I am. Hurray!!

Q. Favorite past PR designer?

A. Mondo.

Q. Challenge you wish they'd bring back?

A. Not sure?

Q. Challenge you hope they don't?

A. Rather not say.

Q. Your take on team challenges:

A. They are good to recognize your own shortcoming and how to build up your weakest areas. If something pushes you harder, then you know you are getting knowledge back tenfold. It's important to step up to the plate as best as one can.

Q. What do you look for in a model?

A. The most important thing in a model is for her to be able to believe with every bit of heart and soul that what she is wearing is the best thing out of the design room. She won't question the cut, fabrication of anything other than what I would want her to give to the presentation. I feel that a model should be able to take character no matter where, when and for at least half a day. Her love for life usually comes out in her confidence in the way she walks.

Q. Do you think you can win "Project Runway"?

A. I think I could win "Project Runway," because no one else can do what I do. I create from the drape to the pattern to the fabrication to the design. My garments have meaning behind them that comes from a very old culture then brought into a very contemporary realm. I hope to win, and I hope to continue to be able to design.