Erin Robertson, who has been doing very well so far in the first five episodes of the latest season of "Project Runway," may have a BFA in Fashion Design and Fiber Art from Massachusetts College of Art and Design -- but she got her start at Provo High School.


Robertson graduated from Provo High in 2005 and has been succeeding week after week on the show, which airs Thursday nights on Lifetime. One of the most active fans tuning in each week is Holly Hutchings, one of Robertson's former teachers at Provo High.


"Oh my gosh, it is one of the most cool things I've ever seen in my career," Hutchings said in a phone interview. She taught at Provo High for 17 years, where she led a one-of-a-kind fashion design program at the high school. She taught classes in fashion design, tailoring, fashion illustration and fashion construction.


In fact, when "Project Runway" debuted in 2004, the similarities to Hutchings' own classroom did not escape her.


"I couldn't stop watching it, I was like, 'That is my classroom, oh my gosh!' " Hutchings said. "We were doing a lot of competitions, we were having judges come in and judge (students') work, we were having fashion shows twice a year every year. ...


"I said, OK, come up with your idea, we’re gonna put patterns together and make it work. You’re gonna create a drawing and you’re gonna make it become your design. So exactly what she is doing on that show is exactly what we did at a lower level."


If Robertson wins the competition, she will receive $100,000 to launch her own fashion business, and Sally Beauty will provide a year's worth of products.


"There’s a ton of things that she’s going to win, but she’s also going to win a name for herself, because she’s really doing well," Hutchings said. "The first three episodes, she won first place, and then she won second place, and then she won first place, and she hasn’t been in the bottom at all, so it’s been exciting."


As a high school student, Robertson already showed promise in the field, Hutchings said.


"She was so interested," Hutchings said. "It was the one thing that motivated her to get other things done, to graduate from high school. She was really excited about fashion design and she had a lot of great ideas. She just was a really fun student."


The judges on "Project Runway" seem to agree.


"I admire the way she has been able to impress the judges with her aesthetics," Hutchings said. "I think she is extremely talented in being able to see a vision of what she wants and being able to carry it out, execute what she thinks is fashion. She’s very up to date with what is fashionable."


Getting her start at a place like Provo High afforded Robertson a unique training, Hutchings said.


"The Provo High training was extremely extensive, it’s one of the places where they get more training than the normal average high school, because most high schools are not offering this kind of training anymore," Hutchings said. "I think Erin definitely had an advantage because she was able to start when she was young, in high school."


Hutchings said that she has enjoyed following the success of several of her students.


"It’s really awesome to see them move on and do something, especially when it's such a unique type of training, and it’s not very common," she said. "It’s just so cool, I just feel so awesome watching."


And it can't help but feel good to see a former student doing well in the field Hutchings taught.


"Obviously (Robertson) is the one doing it, but I just love that I was able to help her make it happen," Hutchings said.


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