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Rachel Leviss Hits the Runway in 2 Glittering Gowns for New York Fashion Week Debut: 'Feel at Home' (Exclusive)

The former 'Vanderpump Rules' star told PEOPLE after the Glaudi by Johana Hernandez show that she felt a "sense of relief" after she finished her walk

<p>Claudia Glaudi</p> Rachel Leviss at GLAUDI by Johana Hernandez runway show

Claudia Glaudi

Rachel Leviss at GLAUDI by Johana Hernandez runway show

Rachel Leviss is back, baby, and she just made her New York Fashion Week debut.

The Vanderpump Rules star walked in the Glaudi by Johana Hernandez show on Feb. 8, wearing two statement gowns. She tells PEOPLE that the moment is both "nostalgic" and "new and exciting."

"The last fashion show I walked was in Paris for Paris Fashion Week, and it was also for Glaudi," she says ahead of her runway moment. "Johana Hernandez was the designer there too. So we've worked together over the years. I feel at home."

<p>Claudia Glaudi</p>

Claudia Glaudi

Leviss wore both a gold strapless gown to open the show and red sparkly gown with cutouts that also featured a dramatic cape to close the show. She said designer Hernandez had an idea of what she wanted her to wear, and those head-turning gowns — which practically floated down the runway — were it.

"This is kind of like reentering into that modeling world," Leviss says of dipping her toes back into modeling. "I'm not sure if that's something that I want to pursue wholeheartedly, but I'm open to it."

<p>Claudia Glaudi</p> Rachel Leviss at Glaudi by Johana Hernandez show

Claudia Glaudi

Rachel Leviss at Glaudi by Johana Hernandez show

Related: Rachel Leviss Explains Why She's 'Dipping My Toe Back into the Drama' of Her Former Vanderpump Rules Friends

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Once she stomped the runway not once, but twice, Leviss tells PEOPLE that she was on an adrenaline high but proud of making her major NYFW debut.

"I feel good," she gushes. "I feel a sense of relief. Of course, the adrenaline's going and I just feel like it was a job well done. We did what we came to do and now we get to celebrate and have fun."

Related: Rachel Leviss Runs Down Tom Sandoval's Many Betrayals and Names the 'Biggest Way' He Crossed Her Mid-Affair

She candidly adds that after the year she's gone through — including "Scandoval" and the public falling out with her Vanderpump Rules costars — this was the confidence boost she needed.

"It makes me feel empowered," she shares. "I feel like I've overcome a lot of difficulties this past year, and I finally get to start living life again. So it feels really good."

<p>Claudia Glaudi</p> Rachel Leviss at Glaudi by Johana Hernandez show

Claudia Glaudi

Rachel Leviss at Glaudi by Johana Hernandez show

Related: Rachel Leviss Says Tom Sandoval Was 'Acting' in Their Relationship and 'Fooled' Her the First Night They Hooked Up

Glaudi by Johana Hernandez specializes in evening gowns and bridalwear — as evidenced by the striking gowns Leviss rocked on the catwalk Thursday night. This season's show, "My Wedding," was inspired by Hernandez's own recent nuptials.

The house wants each of their dresses to bring joy to those who wear them, and Leviss says that's exactly how she felt wearing the gowns she modeled on the runway. In fact, she felt so confident in her Glaudi dresses that she didn't even feel the need to prep for her NYFW moment. She said she just wanted to put on her heels and do it.

"I'll just go for it," she shares.

<p>Claudia Glaudi</p> Rachel Leviss at Glaudi by Johana Hernandez show

Claudia Glaudi

Rachel Leviss at Glaudi by Johana Hernandez show

Related: Rachel Leviss Vows to Be 'a Better Friend' in 2024 After 'Bad Decisions' Led to Vanderpump Rules Affair

Leviss says she's "proud" of how far she's come in the past year and walking in the Glaudi by Johana Hernandez show is just another step toward taking care of herself.

"I've been working really hard on making sure I'm putting my mental health first and really putting myself first."

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