You know her for her famous win on Project Runway’s eighth season, a gorgeous fashion line where sweetheart meets hipster cool, and a regular on the NYC style scene. But who knew that Brooklyn-based Gretchen Jones also had a hidden talent for interior design? We sat down with the designer in her beautiful Fort Green home to talk decor, inspiration, and the best advice she’s ever been given. Gals – you’ll want to listen up for this one!
Thanks so much for welcoming us into your beautiful home! You’re a fashion designer but obviously have a natural knack for decor. Has interior design always been a love of yours?
It has! And thank you. I actually thought I would end up in interior design, rather than fashion… I think they go hand in hand since it’s more about lifestyle these days. My home is a reflection of the lifestyle my designs represent. It’s my sanctuary.
And a beautiful sanctuary it is! Does your background in fashion inform your decorating choices?
I wouldn’t say consciously so! When I move into a new space, I tend to fill it with only the things I love. My philosophy is that when you do that, everything organically – and magically – works together. When it comes to the bones of a space, I let them inform my approach to filling it. I don’t really like formulaic design for interiors – they become rigid and sterile. Fashion, on the other hand, is very much formulaic, I have to create the ‘space’ for the concepts I then fill a collection with. So regardless of how complementary the final outcomes are, they are rather different when it comes to approach.
You grew up in rural Colorado and Oregon. What was the transition like moving to NYC?
Harder than I had anticipated. I miss living amidst nature. New York is a very different environment to live in and I appreciate where I come from so much more now that I’m far away from it. But I love it here for how different it is, how it’s changing my creative point of view and how much cultural stimulation I have to be inspired by here! Every day is a roller coaster, but I’m super happy to have made this my home.
So let’s talk fashion now. Your latest Fall 2013 collection is gorgeous. How would you describe your inspiration for the collection?
For fall, I named my collection Double Fantasy after the John Lennon album of the same title. I was also inspired by poet Diane di Prima’s Recollections of My Life as a Woman: The New York Years.
Where do you go, physically or mentally, to get inspired for your craft?
Each of my collections is inspired by a piece of literature and album, both of which I read and listen to while designing. I use those as jumping off points for inspiration and further research.
Tell us, what’s your favorite and least favorite thing about being a fashion designer?
I love getting the opportunity to create continually. I hate having to create continually! It’s a double edged sword.
We can relate to that! We have to ask – your win of Project Runway Season 8 was one of the most controversial in the history of the show. What do you have to say about that?
Oh I don’t know; nothing really. I won, I believe I should have and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to do so.
We love that attitude and couldn’t agree more! What’s life been like post Project Runway?
The same, but different. I’m still working my butt off to achieve my ultimate dream, and I still have a far way to go to achieve it. I’m very grateful for the doors that have opened for me, but I’m still the one who has to walk through them.
You are a sage one! What’s the best piece of career advice you’d give a new college graduate?
Take your time, be patient, be humble and work for others you admire before you dive into anything on your own.
And the best piece of advice you’ve ever received professionally?
Be passionate about what you do, and what you do will reward you.
Let’s end with one about the future. Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
I hope to be running a healthy business with a little free time to focus on my life outside of design.
No doubt you will get there and we can’t wait to watch – and be inspired – along the way. Thanks for letting us chat with you today!