Week 6: My Designer Life By Gretchen Jones of Project Runway

It has been a long distance sprint to the finish line. You know when you think a reprieve from the hard work is just around the corner, so you run your hardest thinking the finish line is coming up? Alas, it’s just a mirage and there are more hills to climb.

It has been a very difficult month, but today I woke up before my alarm clock which I haven’t done in weeks. I’m guessing it’s because this past week I actually finished my collection in the tiny home studio I like to call Armageddon (because that’s what it looks like in here). I made the deadline with six hours to spare.

I woke before dawn, packed my collection and hailed a cab into Manhattan. I was filled with fear that perhaps I had made a body of work that wasn’t me and wouldn’t work. Had I forged a new path with blinders on?

But I arrived to smiling faces who were eager to play dress up and cheer me on. The wonderful photographer made me feel like a “real designer.” The Green Beauty Team (of course, I used an ethical girls dream team) was ready to make my vision come to life on a model that was sweet and different than the “MothLove” girls of yesteryear.

Everything about this day was new. I had never worked in an environment with a professional team. It made me feel like Super Woman, but Super Woman after a long battle. At one point I almost cried. The model was dressed, her hair and make up finished. The lighting was ready and music played the anthem of the day. Then my concept came around the corner and looked better than I could have imagined. It was like a phoenix rising from the ashes. The new Gretchen Jones appeared.

And just like that it was over. You might think I’d be relieved, yet my to do list seems larger than ever. The next leg of this race involves branding and launching, with a turn-around-time that seems impossible to achieve. But again, impossibilities seem to knock on my door more often than a friend these days.

As I wrap up one project and move onto the next I wonder when it will hit me, just how far I’ve come.

The day after wrapping my shoots I was at New York Fashion Week (NYFW) presentations watching Bliss Lau’s artful show of ballerina dancers entangled in the most incredible leather and chain garments. A designer I’ve admired for so long, right there in front of me, pushing herself the way I hope to. Making me want more, never looking back except to appreciate where I’ve been.

This season I find myself submerged in the scene, rather than looking through the window. Fearing I still don’t speak the language, I have to jump in. This game isn’t for the light at heart.

My dance card is full this week and NYFW beckons me like a moth to a flame. I may be a whole new me, but I’m just learning how to spread my wings.

Image credit: Gretchen Jones

This is the sixth piece in a new series at EcoSalon with Project Runway winner and sustainable fashion designer Gretchen Jones. For Jones, her daily apprenticeship with the “school of life” has been her guiding teacher and we look forward to bearing witness to her weekly inspiration collages, featuring ideas and scenes from the streets and parties of New York City, where she recently located. As well as her innate sense of style she’ll be pulling from a world of patterns, textures and all the designers who have preceded her.