By  on April 12, 2011

On the finale episode of last season’s “Project Runway,” Gretchen Jones told the judges — Michael Kors, Nina Garcia, Heidi Klum and guest Jessica Simpson — that she “could immediately make [them] proud” if she won. After weeks and weeks of improbable challenges and high-drama spats, this was it. Jones, along with fellow finalists Mondo Guerra and Andy South, had just presented their collections at New York Fashion Week. They were lined up, as usual, in some oversize room at Parsons The New School for Design, facing a barrage of critiques. “Why do you think you should be the winner?” was the question Klum lobbed at all three. Jones, with her model to her right, continued, “The next step after ‘Project Runway’ is getting people in my clothing, and I need help to do that.”

The rest is reality television history. Jones won — and kept her word. Two weeks after the finale aired in October, the Colorado native, who most recently called Portland, Ore., home, packed her bags and moved to New York to work on her debut fall collection, which she has just unveiled: a 21-look lineup of Boho-meets-city-chic wears that have been snapped up by Steven Alan and TG-170 in New York, Frances May in Portland and Tobi.com. Jones is simultaneously launching a second collection: a line of bronze and silver jewelry that, like the clothes, strikes the Southwestern-light vibe she showcased on TV. “My plan was always to move swiftly and with intention right from ‘Project Runway’ into the industry,” says Jones, 29, in that no-nonsense, decisive tone for which she became known, and often ridiculed. “The show was the platform I needed to launch. If I hadn’t won, I would have still done this. I definitely always had it in me.”

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