Nancy Volpe-Beringer accomplished more than most on Project Runway

PROJECT RUNWAY -- Season:18 -- Pictured: Nancy Volpe-Beringer -- (Photo by: Joe Pugliese/Bravo)
PROJECT RUNWAY -- Season:18 -- Pictured: Nancy Volpe-Beringer -- (Photo by: Joe Pugliese/Bravo) /

Sometimes the journey is as important as the finish. Nancy Volpe-Beringer found her own personal win in the Project Runway experience.

Project Runway brings together fashion designers from varying backgrounds. Nancy Volpe- Beringer earned a distinction on season 18. As the oldest fashion designer in the competition’s history, some people might have discounted her chances at first. Over the course of the season, Nancy proved not only that she earned that spot, but also that she is an inspiration for anyone to pursue their dreams.

Pursuing a dream often takes courage. While some people are brave enough to seek the experience, sometimes life can push them in a different direction. Still, when an opportunity presents itself, it cannot be pushed aside.

For Volpe-Beringer, she seemed to embrace every moment in her Project Runway experience. Although there were trying moments, she seemed to exude joy in the moment. That attitude is something about the designer that everyone should remember. Yes, she made fabulous designs, but she also grew from the experience.

Looking at her designs over the season, Volpe-Beringer’s looks had an evolution. Whether it was building confidence or finding her voice, the arc of her progression was one of the best examples in Project Runway. It proves that success can come at any age.

After the Project Runway finale, the designer answered a few questions about her experience and what is next for her.

Culturess: In this Project Runway season, you were seen as the woman who has a second chance to live her dream. Why do you think you are a good role model for women to follow their dreams?

Nancy Volpe-Beringer: My husband shared a quote by Walter Payton after the finale: “If you ask me how I want to be remembered, it is as a winner. You know what a winner is? A winner is somebody who has given their best effort, who has tried the hardest they possibly can, who has utilized every ounce of energy and strength within them to accomplish something.”

I hope that viewers who learn about my story can see that, no matter what challenge I have been faced with, throughout my life I have given “every ounce of energy and strength” to whatever goal I’ve set. So, while I may not have walked away with the season 18 Project Runway title, I want people to know that I feel I proudly and humbly walked away as a winner.

Culturess: One of your high points this season was during the Olympic athlete challenge where you blended fashion and function. How can fashion designs use their voice to create more inclusive designs?

Volpe-Beringer: People with unique fashion needs have the same desire and need to be able to express themselves through fashion. I have heard from so many people thanking me for including a wheelchair user in my collection. (I can’t wait to for them to see the total inclusive collection.) They have shared that they never saw themselves on a runway. I hope my collection inspires other designers to be more inclusive in how they show their collections and to be more adaptive in their designs.

Culturess: Throughout the season, it appeared that you didn’t exactly fit in with the other designers. Did the social aspect of this competition make it difficult for you?

Volpe-Beringer: I was quite surprised by this reaction. I had, and hopefully it showed, much respect and admiration I had for my fellow designers. However, most of my life, I have been socially introverted. People are so surprised when they hear this, as I have worked quite hard to overcome this. I also had to be extremely focused when completing a challenge knowing that, with my limited design experience, I was not the fastest designer.

Also, my younger son cautioned me about being on a reality TV show. He had seen my pain as a victim of adult bullying and knew that I was opening myself up to online bullying just because that is unfortunately the nature of our world now. However, I assured him that I now had the strength and saw myself as a survivor and not a victim. I wear a “NOH*” bracelet every day and followed that practice on the show. I never felt the need to put down a designer, their aesthetic, or process. Despite my strength as a survivor, I will tell you whether it was editing or real, that words do hurt. And I just hope that people saw that kindness can still move you forward.

Culturess: Which was your favorite challenge of this season?

Volpe-Beringer: I became interested in adaptive design while at Drexel University. So, without a doubt, the opportunity to design for Para Olympiad Tatyana McFadden changed my life as a designer forever and greatly influenced my finale collection.

Culturess: Which challenge would you like a second chance at?

Volpe-Beringer: Anyone can just look at the wearable art designs on my website and see that my wearable art coats and signature wrap-around pants are quite fun and flattering. I would love another chance at the Ashley Longshore challenge. Unfortunately, I picked the wrong fabrication, and the garments did not drape how I wanted to and appeared quite oversized.

Culturess: What was it like to present at NYFW?

Volpe-Beringer: I can’t even say it was a fantasy come true because I never dared to dream it. But it is a moment that will live with me forever. I worked tirelessly through the five months on my zero-waste collection. It showed my rawness and pure passion and compassion as a designer. And I believe that my message of inclusivity and sustainability will leave a mark on the fashion community and the millions of people that got to see it through the opportunity of being a contestant on Project Runway.

Culturess: What is next for you and your brand?

Volpe-Beringer: I want to continue to be a relevant designer who promotes inclusivity and sustainability, while at the same time using my fashions to give back to the community. Also, the inspirational messages from around the world have been overwhelming and are fueling my desire to further explore adaptive design.

Nancy Volpe-Beringer is owner of her namesake brand. The brand is described as all inclusive couture designs and wearable art.

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What was your favorite look from Nancy? What do you think about her comments about being a winner?