Let's get one thing straight: Gretchen Jones knows what you're thinking. "I'm the bitch!" she laughs. It's a perception she's ready to disprove—and have a little fun with. "I got an evil purple lipstick," she notes of a rare stray from her signature reddish-orange lipcolor (So Chaud by MAC). "And I've started wearing heels. I'm 5'11" and already considered a bitch—I may as well take it up a notch!"
The 28-year-old's ability to laugh at herself seems out of step with the serious, all-knowing competitor seen on Project Runway's eighth season. "All of my sarcasm got stripped away on the show," she says. Still, the striking designer from Portland, Oregon, takes responsibility for what did make it on air. "I have a strong voice, and I communicate my tastes in a manner that you either like or don't," she admits. "But there's a difference between critique and taste. My tastes aren't for everybody—that's what fashion is." Fair enough. Yet for many, such rationale does nothing to lessen the sting of Jones' triumph over crowd favorite Mondo Guerra. Both designers presented strong finale collections—strong enough to split the judges straight down the middle. While Nina Garcia and Michael Kors championed Jones, Heidi Klum and guest judge Jessica Simpson stood firmly for Team Mondo. "A lot of people were really upset that he didn't win," Jones says of her runner-up. "I'm OK with that. Mondo is a genius and very compelling, but I think my work spoke for itself." Indeed, "Running Through Thunder," Jones' winning collection, speaks to a new tribe of women—one whose casual-cool exterior belies all-powerful ambition. Who but Jones herself is better to model the Southwestern-inspired chevron prints and one-of-a-kind jewelry? "There's a difference between the Lady of the Canyon from the '70s and bohemian women now," she says. "I consider myself a modern bohemian woman, but I still wear 5-inch heels and tailored trousers. I have big goals." Among them, an entire lifestyle brand that bears her name. But first, she'll put the prize money toward paying off her debt. Next she hopes for an apprenticeship under one of the greats: Diane von Furstenberg, Donna Karan, or—fingers crossed—Michael Kors. "I'm the 'ask for what you want and you will get it' type of girl," Jones says. Based on her track record, she's got a lot coming her way.
Stay In The Know
Marie Claire email subscribers get intel on fashion and beauty trends, hot-off-the-press celebrity news, and more. Sign up here.
Rachel Zegler and Halle Bailey on Dealing With Trolls as Modern-Day Disney Princesses
"It’s choosing to be present and know that they’re probably just having a really hard day. And I’m putting out a movie."
By Quinci LeGardye
Kendall Jenner in Phoebe Philo Is Luxury with a Capital L
The sum total of her outfit is approximately six months of my rent.
By India Roby
Kaia Gerber's "Off-Duty Librarian" Look Is a Win for Nerds Everywhere
Bookworms, this one is for you.
By Melony Forcier
Virgil Abloh Has Died at Age 41, Celebrities Pay Tribute to Designer
He was battling cancer.
By Iris Goldsztajn
Tracee Ellis Ross Stunned in a Glittering Valentino Gown
Tracee Ellis Ross stunned in a gold Valentino gown on Instagram, sharing three gorgeous photos from a fitting with her longterm stylist Karla Welch.
By Emily Dixon
Misha Nonoo Hosted a Star-Studded Post-Wedding Lunch in Rome
After Prince Harry and Meghan Markle left Rome, Misha Nonoo and several of her other famous wedding guests enjoyed a post-wedding lunch.
By Kayleigh Roberts
Meghan Markle's Close Friend, Designer Misha Nonoo, Speaks Out Against "Unjust" Criticism of the Duchess
Misha Nonoo, a close friend of Meghan Markle who collaborated with her on a new line, spoke out this week defending the duchess against critics.
By Kayleigh Roberts
Meghan Markle Presents Clare Waight Keller With the British Womenswear Designer of the Year Award
The Duchess of Sussex wore a one-shoulder black dress.
By Marina Liao
Miley Cyrus Claps Back at Stefano Gabbana for Calling Selena Gomez "Ugly"
Her comeback is perfect.
By Megan Friedman
How Celebrities Are Honoring Kate Spade's Life & Legacy
"You couldn’t walk into her boutiques and not smile," wrote Mindy Kaling.
By Marina Liao
Another British Designer Critiques Meghan Markle's Wedding Dress
"If you choose a simple design the fit should be perfect..."
By Rachel Epstein