I haven’t done a Pink Spotlight in a very long time but I know that there are a lot of aspiring fashion designers out there and you may have a dream of being one. Those that stop by often know that I work with a lot of upcoming and existing fashion designers. One of them is non other than Laurie Underwood who owns the fashion label Wanda Grace. She resides in Chicago and is now currently starring on Project Runway Season 14! I have been wearing her designs for a few years now and I thought it would be pretty cool to share her story with you. In our interview, she talks about how she fell in love with fashion, why she tried out for Project Runway, her favorite to muse she would love to work with and so much more. Check it out inside…
When did the love of fashion strike you? Since 9, I had been illustrating fashions. It wasn’t until I was 14 years old, that my mother took my sisters and I to the Ebony Fashion Fair show in Detroit. I didn’t know what to expect. I just heard “fashion”. During the show, I dreamed of creating my own pieces coming down the runway and it was at that time, that I had manifested my dreams to become a Fashion Designer. I knew that fashion was where I wanted to be. Sixteen years later, I am doing just that…oops, did I just tell my age???…:)
What made you try out for Project Runway? I thought I would never audition for the show. One day, I was sitting at my desk at my day job and I got super frustrated and asked myself, “why am I here if I can’t do what I love to do?” I really wanted to focus full scale on my fashion, but I was keeping myself from doing so by being in my own way; and by that, I mean not fully stepping out on faith with my dream. The next day, I recieved an email from Project Runway Casting to apply for the show. I had recieved these emails for 5 years and always just deleted them. That day, without hesistation, I applied and the rest was written.
What is your all time favorite thing to create? I love designing my signature sheath dresses. A dress for me is like a woman’s best friend. When you wear the right dress, there’s so much confidence that exudes from a woman when she steps into the room. I want Wanda Grace to be apart of that moment. So, I try to design dresses that allow women to stand out while fitting in all at the same time.
If you could have ANY muse, who would it be and why? Actress Tracee Ellis Ross is and has always been my muse. When I was in high school, I fell in love with her style on Girlfriends. Although I knew it was a wardrobe stylist dressing her as Joan Clayton, I felt like a huge part of Joan’s style was Tracee’s style as well. Overall, her style is classic, edgy and sophisticated and that’s what I love to create as a designer.
For the young people out there that may want to be fashion designers, any honest advice for them?
1. Learn and study fashion and style daily on your own. There are many resources that are easily accessible.
2. Purchase The fashion Designer’s Survival Guide by Mary Gehlhar
3. When first starting off as a Designer, become known for that one item that you can offer modifications to; dresses, skirts, pants, etc. Many new and independent designers want to start full lines right away when there is so much competition. Become a go-to designer for that one particular item. Once you reach your desired notoriety, consider expansion and let your dream just guide you from there.
4. Never tag fear along with you on your journey.
Images via Wanda Grace