If you are anything like me, you probably found yourself this past summer as an unproductive person watching productive people on Thursday nights due to this little reality show known as Project Runway. Season 8 was beyond entertaining with tougher challenges, mid-season breakdowns, personal confessions, and lets be honest drama…drama…drama! So needless to say I was thrilled to have the chance to interview and get the scoop from the winner of Season 8, Gretchen Jones!
Check out the the full interview!
After an insane Project Runway Season 8, Gretchen Jones won in a nail biting finale!! Congratulations!
Did you ever imagine in your wildest dreams that you would win Project Runway? How did you feel when Heidi Klum announced your name as winner of Season 8?
Gretchen: When I made the decision to apply [after years of being asked to] I knew I could win. I think you have to go into it feeling confident. Confident in your point of view as a designer, confident in your ability to craft/construct well made and executed garments, confident in your ability to articulate your vision, etc…
Pro athletes walk onto the court knowing they will win, why wouldn’t I? Its the only way to go for it in a competitive industry, let alone competition based TV series.
Of course there was controversy with the win because Mondo too was a very talented designer with a completely different aesthetic. The judges questioned whether your collection was considered too wearable and less high fashion. However with much argument by Nina Garcia and Michael Kors, your clothes were noted as being high fashion with the appeal of being wearable.
What were your thoughts while watching the final decision play back on TV? Do you think sometimes in the fashion industry the more wearable collections get overlooked for lack of craziness or “unwearableness”?
Gretchen: I think there is a huge misunderstanding in mainstream America as to what is fashion. There are different types of fashion- haute couture & pret-a-porter, both of which are considered high fashion. Mondo and I represented different genres, neither being more ‘fashion’ than the other.
Some of my favorite designers, whom are very successful and present during fashion week[s] are Rachel Comey, Isabelle Marant, Vanessa Bruno, Stella McCartney, Phoebe Philo, Mara Hoffman, Vena Cava, VPL…all are wearable, ‘ready-to-wear’ labels that I think represent the modern woman’s perspective on dressing and high fashion.
My clothing and design aesthetic is relevant, forward and wearable…fashion, like art, is objective. We all have an opinion, but what makes it so great is that there is room for many different types of artisans. I think I represented on PR something that has barely been highlighted on the show- marketable, wearable, sellable clothing, that also was fun to watch coming down the runway.
You styled to perfection for the finale collection!
What advice or tips would you give to Reality Chic readers who want to achieve a more polished, pulled together look without spending a ton of moolah?
Gretchen: I think styling is key to fashionable girls on a budget, you don’t have to have a lot of money to put your hair in a high bun and slap on some bright lipstick. I also think its important to know how to approach ones closet- Are you looking at your wardrobe in a painterly way?
Outside of what I designed and presented design wise, my entire wardrobe [personal] was 90% re-sale, as I too am on a budget. I mimic what I adore on the runways via thrift and mimicry. Layering, playing with sizes/proportions and breaking the rules [i.e. shopping based on size, not fit, mixing colors like navy/black cream/white, brown/black, etc.] make all the difference…that and research, research, research!
I am hungry, I follow all sorts of street fashion, high fashion mags/blogs and always follow fashion weeks with a pen and paper next to me. It’s amazing what you can replicate if you just play along!
One of my favorite things about your final collection and designs throughout Project Runway was that the viewers could envision the girl who would wear your clothes.
What was your inspiration? Do you think you’ll continue to design for “that girl”?
Gretchen: That girl, is me, it’s my friends, the girls I wan to know and play dress up with. I think it is imperative as a designer to know your client. Know who you are trying to dress. I think what makes me a strong designer is my ability to translate fantasy into a very accessible, wearable way.
I want my customer to want to be ‘that girl,’ rather than feel she can’t attain what ‘that girl’ embodies. I want women of many ages to view my work and see themselves in it. I want to create clothing that is timeless, yet special enough to be your favorite piece…because of how you feel in it.
I recently read an interview with Diane von Furstenburg, in it she said - ”Christian Lacroix once told me that women designers make clothes and men designers make costumes. I think that’s true” and I agree, I know how I want women to feel when looking at my runways, looking at my racks. I want them to feel like a million dollars and as pretty as they’ve ever felt, just like a woman should when she gets dressed.
What is your next step after winning Project Runway?
Gretchen: I’m working on my business plan and locking down investment. It takes far more than 100K to start a label and I want to do this right, so I can dress women for a long time and establish myself within the industry as a steadfast label.
Im currently sketching out my jewelry collection to launch this spring. And just moved to NYC, where I am researching manufacturing and the resources I will need in order to produce domestically, support ‘Save the garment Center’ and our local economy. I’ll be producing collections with custom textiles too, so I’m working on those concepts as we speak.
Its important for me to launch when I have all my ducks in a row, because when I do, there’s no looking back.
Reality Chic’s tagline is: Because real people don’t wear sparkle pants to Olive Garden!
Meaning a lot of high fashion doesn’t exactly translate into real life.
As a light hearted question, what outfit advice or styling tip would you give to a 20 something girlwhose date amounts to going out to a nice dinner at Olive Garden?
Gretchen: You can be a romantic no matter where you are. Be the fantasy version of yourself. Create the world you want to live in. Play dress up every day and enjoy the reality of clothing- it can transform you, should transform you!
When you play with your own aesthetic, you feel better about yourself, when you feel better about yourself you have richer interactions with those around you…in turn, you live a life according to your own rules…and who doesn’t want that!?
Gretchen, it’s been so great getting to hear your thoughts and perspective! Thank you so much for taking the time for Reality Chic. I really appreciate it!
Best of luck in your future designs, and Reality Chic readers will definitely be keeping our eye out for you!
Check Gretchen out: