Photography: Barbara Nitke/Lifetime Press/Courtesy A+E Networks

When it comes to the breaking barriers for Native American designers on fashion runways, Patricia Michaels has led the way.

As the first Native American contestant to appear on the hit television series Project Runway, Patricia Michaels has more on her mind than winning. “Throughout the filming, I made sure to remain true to who I am as a woman, a Pueblo Indian, and a designer,” says the Taos, New Mexico-based fashion designer. “I hope that my participation in Project Runway shatters stereotypes and shows an honest portrayal of a Native American woman who creates fashion influenced by both traditional Native culture and by the ever-changing world around us.”

Photography: Barbara Nitke/Lifetime Press/Courtesy A+E Networks

In season 11 of the show, Michaels’ feathery and rippling hemlines, lyrical black-and-white motifs, and hand-painted fabrics hold their own against the creations of 15 additional designers. Western fashion fans can’t wait to see what she’s got up her feathered sleeve.

For more on Patricia Michaels, visit the fashion designer’s website.

From the May/June 2013 issue.