Written by Victoria Espinoza
Heidi Klum reminds “Project Runway” viewers every week: “in fashion you’re either in or you’re out.” Mineola native Altagracia Diaz learned first hand what it’s like to be “in” regarding fashion, when she got a total makeover this past year on the hit basic cable show.
Diaz and one her sons, Aldrian, submitted a video explaining why she is a “real woman” in need of a makeover. Diaz is a single mother of five – Alicia, Aldrian, Aldany, Albert and Alberto – two of which are twins who are handicap and in wheelchairs.
“I have no time for anything, especially myself,” Diaz said, explaining how she is constantly taking care of her of her family, which is exactly why she needed some help from her favorite TV show to transform her appearance.
The Lifetime reality show decided to try to interact more with their fans by presenting the “super fan makeover” challenge, reaching out to viewers across the country and asking them to submit a short video explaining why they are “Super Fans” of Project Runway and why they deserve a makeover. In the end a total of eight contestants were chosen and brought to Manhattan for four days to film the episode and receive makeovers.
Once she was in Manhattan and meeting the other “super fans,” Diaz was paired with designer Kate Pankoke, who was “the sweetest girl” as well as a wedding dress designer with her own line. When starting to design her makeover, Diaz explained what vision she had in mind for herself: “to look like a hot mama.” Pankoke then chose a palate influenced by Diaz’s eyes.
Diaz said that all the “super fans” had a lot of time to practice their runway walks, with a little guidance from show fashion consultant Tim Gunn, whom Diaz described as “one of the sweetest people, and exactly like what he seems” on the show, adding that he always made the participants feel better about themselves.
“I told him at the end of the show that I wanted to take him home with me!” Diaz gushed.
Diaz made a particularly good impression with her runway walk on Project Runway Judge Zac Posen, who congratulated her after her walk saying he was impressed with how she presented herself on the runway and “you really took that runway for yourself.”
Diaz said that she had a great time strutting down the runway, feeling good and full of confidence.
A small gathering of her friends and family was planned at her house so that they could all watch the episode premiere together. A few days before the episode aired, her outfit that she modeled on the runway was sent to her house.
“I couldn’t believe it, it felt like a dream come true to see myself on TV,” Diaz remembers about what it was like to watch herself on the show’s tenth episode of season 12. And although she said it didn’t change her life in any big way, it definitely gave her more confidence and made her feel more proud of herself.
All the “super fans” also exchanged numbers and Facebook information so that they could all keep in touch and talk as the episodes premiered.
Each contestant also was interviewed about their makeovers by L’Oreal Paris as part of an online ad campaign, with Diaz receiving a complete hair transformation including a new cut and a new hair color.
When asked about the experience as a whole, Diaz had nothing but great things to say about the staff, designers, and judges of Project Runway.
“I didn’t see anything less than what I saw on TV, she was a very lovely woman,” Diaz said of Heidi Klum in particular. “I would absolutely do it again.”