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Boca designer Karen Batts says SoFlo is in her "Project Runway" work

Staff Writer

Karen Batts may live in Queens New York now, but at heart the "Project Runway" contestant is a Boca girl.

"You can see it with my colors," Batts explains in a telephone interview. "I love color. When I moved up here a year and a half ago [they told me at] an internship I had taken that my wardrobe would become more black. It happens to everyone. But not me."

Home-schooled, the Florida native grew up in Boca Raton and even attended nearby Palm Beach Atlantic University before going on to get a degree in fashion design and photography from the prestigious Savanna College of Art and Design.

Visit her website at "Project Runway" airs on the Lifetime channel Thursdays at 9 p.m. EST.

Here's more about Karen Batts, 29, in a Q&A:

What makes your designs unique?

"I love to design my own prints. I try to create unique prints, how to say it? I guess you could say they are graphic. They have the photo element to them. I very much have photography in my background and I use that."

What was your "Project Runway" audition like?

"I filled out the paper application last year. They basically sent me an email and there was no interest in me further. This year rolls around and I get an email saying they want me to audition again. The day is was due I filled out everything and I'm thinking, 'Uh oh, I'm going to be late.' So I decided to go to the open audition in New York City. I think the year's experience outside of school really helped me be a stronger applicant because they took me right away."

What did you think of fellow South Floridian Katelyn Pankoke, who grew up in Parkland but lives in Chicago now, returning to the show this year?

"I only knew her as being one of the designers from Chicago. We getting to know each other and talking one day and we're finding out we live basically right around the corner from each other. It's a small world. As for her coming back, I thought it was a really interesting element to the show that's never been done before. Maybe I'm so blind on how TV was edited...I didn't get how she was the mean girl. I remember watching and thinking how I wanted to be her friend."

Out of Heidi Klum, Nina Garcia, Zac Posen and this year Tim Gunn, who was your favorite judge on "Project Runway?"

"I would have to say I loved all the regular judges....but I'm dazzled by Zac Posen. His smile is beautiful and he always had the best constructive criticism. He's just so beautiful to look at so he was my favorite."

How do you feel you come off on the show? Do we get an accuaret picture of who you are?

"So far what I've seen watching the show has been pretty fair. I feel like there is so much drama with everyone else. There really was not so much of my presence other than the runway the last challenge because I was out of the workroom for two and half hours. I had a root canal that got infected and I had to get that taken care of. From what I have seen it's completely accurate. They're kind of casting me as that funny, quirky girl...which I totally am."

What are your favorite places to hang out in SoFlo? Do you have any favorite places to shop?

"Growing up I was always at the beach. I mean I was always begging my mom and my grandparents to take me to the beach. Or I was at City Place in West Palm Beach, just hanging out, going tot he movies or restaurants. I really love Town Center Mall. My taste has always been classic with a little taste of preppy. So I love Bloomies and I love J. Crew, places like that."

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