Gretchen Defends ‘Project Runway’ Win: ‘I’m Just As Strong As Mondo’

by | October 29, 2010 at 1:44 PM | Interviews, Project Runway

Project Runway's Gretchen Jones (Lifetime)

Project Runway's Gretchen Jones (Lifetime)

Newly anointed ‘Project Runway’ winner Gretchen Jones isn’t surprised that she snagged top honors on last night’s season finale—even if a slew of you are. As is her custom, the 28-year-old articulate designer had much to say when she took time out to chat with us—from beating out fan-favorite Mondo Guerra to being labeled the B-word at the reunion to who taught her the most out of the competition.

You talked about having a few bucks in your bank account before going on ‘Project Runway’…so how’s it looking now?
Well, I’ll tell you when I get the check!

What thoughts and emotions were running through your head when Heidi announced you as the winner. Were you shocked?
I wasn’t shocked. I feel and felt very confident in my presentation and why I should’ve been the winner. I feel like I’m obviously a fighter, and I did the best I could to represent the type of designers who should be winning ‘Project Runway,’ so it just felt good and what I was expecting.

What did you think of the battle between the judges?
I think that was a clear representation that fashion is art and very objective and we all have opinions about it. Knowing that Michael and Nina were the ones that fought for me was flattering in ways that I can’t even really say. Nina is a fashion editor—how many people have an opportunity to reach someone like that and to have a designer like Michael Kors not only understand my potential and my aesthetic really speaks to who I’m trying to reach. You can’t please everybody, and I’m proud to know that this season was a battle and I think that’s awesome.

A lot of people thought Mondo was going to win this season and were actually taken aback that you won. If you could say anything to these shocked fans, what would you say to them?

I would say that memory can be short, and Mondo performed strongly toward the end of the competition and I performed strongly in the beginning. In the end, I represented the direction fashion is going, I represented a modern female consumer—and I did so in a manner that deserves to win. You have to remember that this was an entire process; it’s not about what happened last. It’s about what we do continually, and I feel I was just as strong a competitor as Mondo.

Check Out Gretchen’s Home Visit From The Beginning Of The Season:

When you guys had your reunion, it was surprising to see Ivy and April’s animosity towards you since we didn’t see that so much during the season. Were you surprised when they spoke up against you?
I was. It took me aback because I feel like the hard part about being an artist is being able to remove yourself from your work. And how I feel about the people around me on a personal level is different than how I feel about their work especially in a competition. It upset me because I felt like that wasn’t being true to the experience that I had had with those people. It is a competition and everybody wanted to win. We all obviously take it personally that we don’t get what we want, and I think it’s important to be patient, loving, and understanding about people’s emotions.

You talk about being unfairly labeled the B-word by the group and started saying some interesting things in your own defense. Can you elaborate on that some more?
I think for a female in general that has conviction and tenacity to get what she wants…there’s like one adjective we get to use. And that’s not showing the dynamic qualities of what makes a strong woman strong.

I think what was unfair was that my opinion got construed by people as being bitchy, but it was just my opinion and it was a competition for $100K and an opportunity to present your work to millions of viewers—and those are very different things. I wish that the feminist movement came with more adjectives because I’m not the only one who’s had to deal with being referred in a regard that isn’t true to the character of women.

Do you regret anything you said this season about any of the designers?
I don’t because I was just answering the questions about my competitors and their work. I think what anyone should regret is what they don’t do not what they do do. I was true to myself and I felt the way I felt and that enabled me to fight til the end.

Where are you at now in your business? What’s the next step for you?
Well, I really did lose everything, so I don’t right now have a business; I’m working on a business plan. I’ve realized that one of the reasons why I went on the show was that I need exposure to potential consumers, but I also need exposure to the type of financial support it takes to be a designer in this industry. My goals are to be diligent, smart, and thoughtful about my next steps.

If you could dress anyone, who’d be on your dream client list?
I would love to dress Alexa Chung, Diane Kruger, Chloe Sevigny—ya know, all the more forward and playful girls at the moment right now.

Out of the entire show, who taught you the most and what was the lesson you took from them?
God, that’s a hard question. I would really say the final three boys [Andy South, Michael Costello, Mondo Guerra] I was with. They reminded me about how important it is to have courage, how important it to be kind and open to those around you, and how important it is to be honest.