SU student receives makeover on hit TV series 'Project Runway'

Art history junior Stephanie Breed was chosen as a 'super fan,' and received a makeover from a 'Project Runway' designer for an episode that aired in mid-September.

“My super fan was... super,” said Alexandria Von Bromssen, a season 12 designer on the hit Lifetime show, Project Runway. “She was Stephanie, she was 20, and she’s been watching the show since she was 13 years old.”

Stephanie Breed, a junior at Syracuse University, was recently featured on an episode of Project Runway. Breed was chosen with eight other Project Runway viewers as a “super fan” eligible to receive a Project Runway makeover from one of the eight competing designers of season 12. The makeover was sponsored by L'Oreal hair color, and required that super fans get new hairstyles, along with customized clothes. The episode was filmed in the summer, and aired on Sept. 19.

““You think, ‘Oh, models don’t have to do anything,’ but it’s actually pretty stressful.”
- Stephanie Breed

Breed is currently studying abroad in Strasbourg, France. Being overseas made it almost impossible to watch the episode she was featured in.

"I had to watch it over Skype at, like, three in the morning," Breed said with a laugh, "and explain the whole thing to my host mother, who doesn't even speak English."

Breed has been a fan of Project Runway since her early teen years. A few months ago, she saw a post on her Facebook feed asking super fans of the show to submit applications explaining why they were the biggest fan of the show; the winners would be given makeovers as part of a challenge for the designers.

“They put out a status saying, ‘Are you a super fan? Apply here and you could be on the show!’' Breed said. "And I was like, well, obviously I’m going to do it because I’ve always been such a huge fan of the show.”
Photo Courtesy of My Lifetime

Breed recorded a video saying why she was a Project Runway fanatic on her iPod, and submitted her application. In it, she mentioned a trip to New York City and visiting Mood Fabrics, a fabric store frequently featured on Project Runway. She also talked about her entry in a Post-Standard contest, which challenged readers to create a scene using Peeps marshmallows. Incidentally, Breed had created a Project Runway judge’s panel from the bird-shaped candies. She didn’t know at the time, but her candy contest entry would later be a factor in winning the Project Runway contest, as well.

“The Peeps diorama made her stand out," said Stephanie Wilcoxen, a close friend of Breed's since high school. "I watched her video and she seemed very personable, which she is, and I think she comes across well. Being such a big fan of Project Runway, she’d be a good person to have on it.”

Breed said she never expected to receive the phone call she did, confirming her win.

“I remember I was home sick from work that day, and this random number came up on my phone," Breed said. "I thought, ‘I don’t know who this is, but I’ll answer it anyway.”

The call was from the Project Runway staff, who told her she’d been selected as one of the super fans to be featured on the show. Breed was asked if she could fly to New York City that weekend for filming and if she was comfortable dying her hair.

“Good thing my boss was really nice about it,” Breed said, again laughing and acknowledging that the call had come at such short notice.

“When I heard the news I was so happy for her,” said Melissa Knapp, one of Breed's closest friends in an email. “At first I couldn't believe it was happening but when I thought about how dedicated of a Project Runway fan she is, I wasn't surprised at all. She got me hooked on the show years ago.”

Photo Courtesy of My Lifetime

Breed was flown out from Syracuse to New York City and put up in a hotel for the weekend. She visited Mood Fabrics, Parsons School of Design and even met Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum. On the first day of filming, Breed and the other super fans rode on top of a double decker bus to tour the city. They were also taken to tour the show’s famous runway and judge’s panel, where they met their designers and the judges.

Breed says her makeover, which included a new haircut and dying her brown hair a deep red, was one of the trip’s major highlights. She said she was surprised at the amount of time that went into her makeover and styling for the runway show.

“You think, ‘Oh, models don’t have to do anything,’ but it’s actually pretty stressful,” Breed said.

Although viewers of the episode only saw Breed and the other super fans walk the runway once, Breed said she had to walk it about five times, stopping to pose and turn in between. She said the experiences was stressful at times — worrying about falling in high heels and posing at the right time — and she recalled nearly fainting on the runway.

But overall, Breed said the experience was a blast. She returned home with a variety of souvenirs: a signed copy of Tim Gunn’s book, her outfit from the episode along with the sketches for it, some scraps from Mood Fabrics and even judging cards signed by the judges themselves.

“It was really fun,” Breed said, “but I think it was a one-time experience. I don’t think that’ll ever happen again, and I think it was just me being really lucky.”

Breed’s aunt, Katy Andrews, knows how much Breed has always loved the show, and recalls days when Breed would have to get home in time to watch.

“She’s always loved the show," Andrews said, laughing. "She’s always talked about watching it, recording it. My brother-in-law would say, ‘Ah, gotta watch that tonight.'"

Photo Courtesy of My Lifetime

Breed’s family and friends described her as sweet, intellectual, artistic, creative and kind, and said she deserved the special treat of being featured on her favorite show. She is active on the SU campus as a member of the yearbook staff and a dancer with the Syracuse Orange Bhangra. Breed also runs her own charity, Books Are Food For Thought, which gives donated books to kids in need at schools and community centers in central New York.

“She’s such a sweet person,” Wilcoxen said. “She has her own charity, she does a million things and it was so cool for her to get to have an experience like this.”

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