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Age 34, Portland, OR - Winner
QDescribe your family. AGregarious, funny, quick-witted and punny! If there is a pun to be had, this family will find it!
QCurrent occupation? AWhen not designing and constructing clothes, I work part-time at a local design boutique, Garnish Apparel.
QPast jobs? AI worked in the Oregon wine industry for 10 years doing various jobs: tasting room manager, assistant winemaker, enologist, wine educator, grape taster.
QPets? ALaFonda, a drunken party cat; Velcro, a 10-year-old, bossy-Bessie Chihuahua; Ivan, a crumb-catching, ankle-biting, treadmill-running rescue Chihuahua.
QNicknames? Am, Misha, chelle-belle, boo, b****-hunter
QWhen did you realize you had designer potential? AIn high school I began to take apart and reconstruct vintage clothing to best fit my needs and quirkiness.
QFirst garment you ever made? AOne of my first designs was my prom dress. It was metallic brocade with a lace overlay. At the time my sewing skills were limited to alterations, so my skillful mom helped me out with the stitching.
QWhat's your design training/schooling, etc.? AI studied printmaking/fine art in college and took classes at my local community college in pattern making and draping.
QHave you won any awards for your designs/work related to design? ANot yet, but I'm working on it.
QStrengths as a designer? AMy strengths are that I am unwavered by trends, I follow my own design aesthetics, I am not afraid of color and texture, and I design for all women.
QWeaknesses as a designer? AFrilly. I don't do frilly. I also have a hard time with patterns, which is odd, since I have a background in printmaking and love repetition of images.
QWhat are your influences? AInfluences in the past have always been the past. I look a lot at vintage clothing, as well as old movies just as much now as I did in my teens, when I started designing. I also take a lot of inspiration from nature, especially when it comes to my color palette. When I am feeling really stuck and need a design jolt, art museums and galleries are a great way for me to get my blood moving and the thread sewing.
QWhat's playing on your iPod when you.re designing? AThe Civil Wars, J-Live, The National, Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Mozart, Bjork, Fischerspooner, The Beatles.
QFavorite material or fabric to work with? AWool, especially Melton. I love the smell of wool. I love the texture of wool. I LOVE WOOL! And then there is silk - oh, beautiful silk. Wait! Wait! Leather, OH MY!
QItem you're most proud of designing? AI love my outerwear. I make a mean raincoat; being from the Pacific Northwest, I better design a mean raincoat!
QFavorite designer(s)? ABottega Veneta, Marc Jacobs, McQueen, Derek Lam .
QSketch or drape? ABoth.
QPatterns or solids? ABoth.
QFavorite colors? AChartreuse. Gray. Black. Gray. Chartreuse. Repeat.
QBiggest fear as a designer? AFailure.
QFashion must? ATailored outerwear. Handkerchief. Baseball-T. Bitchin. boots.
QFashion faux pas that drives you crazy? AWriting on the butt of pants. Yoga pants as daywear. Visible thongs. Flip-flops. Flip-flops with a heel. Pants that are too tight, revealing smuggled hamsters. Tracksuits.
QUgliest item of clothing/accessory you've worn? AI will never regret what I wear. My clothing makes a statement of my mood and vigor at that moment in time, which I will never regret.
QFavorite style icon? AAuntie Mame.
QWhat would you design for the first lady? AA tracksuit with yoga pants with the word "LADY" on the butt and a killer pair of stiletto flip-flops. KIDDING! A structured sheath and leather cape; don't mess with the first lady.
QCelebrity you wish you could design for? ATilda Swinton. She pushes the envelope. She goes there. She is not afraid! I would make a daring coatdress embroidered with the hair of a magical unicorn, and if I cannot find the unicorn hair, metal.
QFavorite supermodel muse? ARanya Mordanova. I love her haunted, Russian-fairy-tale look!
QIf you had to name your label, you'd call it... AAu Clothing. I've got it right now.
QIf you weren't designing, you'd be... AIn the nut house. Or a glue factory. Or a factory that lacquers nuts.
QPlaces/cultures you wish you could design for? AI love Russia. I love the Ukraine. I have never been to Alaska, but I would love to spend some time there getting inspired.
QDream place to set up your business? AIn the middle of nowhere Wyoming in a glass studio with just rock and wind and antelope as my backdrop. OR, Portland, Oregon.
QWebsites that feature your work? Awww.au-clothing.com, www.garnishapparel.com
QHow were you described as a kid? AOutgoing. Creative. Goofy.
QHow are you described by your family and friends? AOutgoing. Creative. Goofy.
QWhy do you think you're easy to live with? AI.m a good snuggler. I like a good laugh. I make a mean soup. BUT, sometimes I want to snuggle you with soup and laugh about it, which makes it hard to live with me.
QFavorite hangout? AA stormy cottage on the coast, my living room, my backyard in the summer time.
QHobbies? AFollowing the Iditarod!
QFavorite movies and TV shows? AMovies: "Auntie Mame," "Lili," "An American in Paris," "In Bruges," "Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels," "Cool Runnings," "White Squall." TV: "The Golden Girls," "Art of the Heist," "Mad Men."
QFavorite books/authors? A"Anna Karenina," Tolstoy, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being," Milan Kundera, "Perfume," Patrick Suskind.
QYour Twitter handle? A@michelleiswell
QiPhone/Android/Blackberry? ATin can and a piece of twine.
QFast food or gourmet? AGourmet, and then on your way home stop at the fast-food joint because you are still hungry. So, both.
QCooking or takeout? ACooking. There is love in cooking and sharing what you cooked.
QFavorite foods? ABorscht. Chicken liver mousse. Pickles. Jelly beans. Salmon. Udon. Hot sauce.
QBeer or wine? ABOTH!!! And of course, anything with bubbles! Champagne, sparkling wine, prosecco, cava.
QGuiltiest pleasure? ASee answer above.
QBiggest pet peeve? AEGOS.
QHow did you end up auditioning for PR? AMy husband talked me into it. I got so far the previous time I auditioned and was downtrodden when I didn't make it that I said I wouldn't do it again. Whelp, I was wrong!
QFavorite past PR designer? ASeth Aaron. (Shout-out to my fellow Portlanders!)
QChallenge you wish they'd bring back? ADeconstructing/reconstructing clothing.
QChallenge you hope they don't? AGrocery store!
QYour take on team challenges: AThe problem with team challenges is PERSONALITIES! You never know whose ego you have to contend with.
QWhat do you look for in a model? A Confidence. Conviction. Just because they are beautiful, doesn't mean they are powerful! I like a model that possesses power.
QDo you think you can win "Project Runway"? AYes. And I will.