Portlander wins Project Runway!

Portland style, shopping, trends.
By Karen Vitt,

Well guys, it happened. The Project Runway 8 season finale went down in all of its fashion-y glory. So, which tattered, beaten down Phoenix rose up victorious from the ashes of the runway? Why, that would be Portland designer Gretchen Jones! Yes, for the second season in a row, the Rose City has claimed the title of winner of Project Runway, and from the looks of it, victory is sweet.

It was a welcomed, exciting surprise that Jones nabbed the top title after we had all but given up hope that the showmanship and drama-loving judges would pick her muted, carefree hippie-chic style over Mondo Guerra’s over- the-top costume pieces.

It wasn’t an easy decision, that much was clear. The deciding panel of Micheal Kors, Nina Garcia, Heidi Klum and guest judge Jessica Simpson (um, no thanks…) was split right down the middle. The designer and fashion editor Kors and Garcia loved Jones’s ’70s safari-inspired collection, while the model and pop singer gravitated towards Guerra’s fun, bold and colorful looks.

Oh yeah, and Andy South was there too. Unfortunately for him it was clearly a two-person contest that he just wasn’t a player in. His collection was very “tranquilized alien heads east.” South missed the mark by going too soft, too neutral and too narrowly focused. It was safe, boring and simply did not compare to the work done by the other final designers.

We can definitely report that it was super fun to watch Guerra’s clothes come down the runway. His collection blended catholic influences fused with his own Mexican heritage, and Guerra did it with a sense of humor and pizazz that is an undeniably important part of fashion. The judges continued to love the brightness and personality in his clothing. Even though both Klum and Simpson gushed about how they would totally wear his stuff, Garcia was ultimately right when she said that Guerra needed to learn the ability to edit, because otherwise his looks have a tendency to look overly young and costumey.

On the other hand, Jones created a collection of looks that was adult, sophisticated and very “of the moment.” Her collection was titled “Running through Thunder” (right), and it beautifully encapsulated a very modern and relaxed way of thinking about dressing (one we would love to imitate). We died for every piece of her final collection, which was made up of ready to wear separates in gorgeous sun-kissed desert tones. The styling was dead-on, and each piece looked very causally sexy — a direction that both Kors and Garcia agreed was the future of fashion.

And there you have it. We (and by we, we mean Jones, and the city of Portland by association) did it again, for the second year in a row! It was an amazing season to watch, and Jones took her laid-back style to the top and showed everyone that style doesn’t necessarily need to scream. We loved her so-called “hippie” aesthetic and are happy that she stayed true to her roots throughout a difficult season. We can’t wait to see what Jones has in store for us next.

We also can’t wait to see what the Portland fashion scene has in store for us next. Coupled with last season’s win by local designer Seth Aaron Henderson, we feel poised for some much deserved attention. Bring it on!

Watch video of the final judging of Gretchen Jones in the season finale of Project Runway 8:

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