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MN native eliminated from ‘Under the Gunn’

Michelle Uberreste discusses her look with mentor Mondo Guerra during filming of “Project Runway: Under the Gunn.” SUBMITTED PHOTO

Perley native Michelle Uberreste’s time on “Project Runway: Under the Gunn” may be over, but her design career has just begun.

Uberreste was eliminated in the Lifetime show’s ninth episode, but she’s taking what she learned from the experience and applying it to her career.

“Almost everyone gets kicked off at one point,” she said. “That’s how life is — you go from one job to the next or one phase to the next, and that’s just what happened.”

After her elimination from the competition, Uberreste said she went home and decided she wanted to launch a website — — with her own fashion line.

And she wanted to do it before the show aired, which gave her about one month.

“It was pretty intense,” she said. But after about six weeks filming the show and going from challenge to challenge, she was used to short deadlines.

“You literally go from one challenge to the next, you don’t have any sleep,” she said. “And you’re not waiting a week in between. You’re literally going to the runway, seeing someone get kicked off and doing the next challenge.”

The challenges

Despite the difficulties, Uberreste did well in several challenges before her elimination, including the vampire challenge, in which contestants were sent into the dark of the night to gather fabrics for a vampire-themed look.

Uberreste found a dark black and red striped fabric and created a dress with accentuated hips and delicate lace details at the neck, which won her the challenge.

“I was just fortunate to find that fabric out in the middle of the night in the dark,” she said. “That’s what inspired me.”

Uberreste said she also felt like she succeeded at the steampunk challenge, where contestants were asked to create a steampunk avant-garde look.

“I was really excited because I like to go over the top,” she said. “And we had two days, so I knew I could kind of go all out and do what I wanted.”

Uberreste said those styles are her forte, but other challenges tested her inventiveness.

“I think what you really learn from are the challenges that don’t really lend themselves to you as a designer,” she said. “The beach one was very difficult for me just because it’s not my aesthetic.”

Working on those challenges and interacting with the other designers opened Uberreste’s mind to new ideas, she said.

“Designers don’t really hang out with each other in real life, and I think artistic people kind of have trouble getting along with artistic people sometimes,” she said.

“But I learned a lot from the other designers, and I learned how to appreciate things that I didn’t necessarily know how to before.”

Comments from judges also taught Uberreste a lesson. She said the first time she was at the bottom during the red carpet challenge the judges questioned her choice of fabric.

“The judges were like, ‘Why did you use this fabric? Why would you try to do something so difficult on your first try?’ ” she said. “And I kind of thought about it, and that’s just me. I always go for it whether it makes sense or not.”

But Uberreste said their comments resonated with her and made her realize she can jump in feet first and do it in a smart way.

“You can take risks, but you should take a calculated risk,” she said.

The business

Now that Uberreste is done with the show, she is applying those lessons to her design business.

She said since the show first aired in January, she has received a lot of business.

“I’ve gotten so much response from people,” she said. “I’m doing a lot of styling and a lot of special side projects just from people contacting me because they saw me on the show.”

Uberreste said she has received a lot of orders from men because they are interested in seeing more menswear. She also recently styled a dance crew and said she’s excited to collaborate with more artists.

“I have a lot of different ideas,” she said. “I definitely love doing different collaborations with different artists. It’s really inspiring to me.”

But along with the positive response she’s received from being on “Under the Gunn,” Uberreste said she also has received negative feedback from viewers. And she said she wants to remind viewers that the designers on the show are human.

“Remember, we’re all human beings, and we all put our heart and soul into what we make,” she said. “What you see on the show is just a small percentage of what (the designers) are like in real life. Some people just don’t thrive in that atmosphere.”

Although some comments were very hurtful, she said she has realized they’re not worth her worries.

“In this industry, you’re always going to deal with that and you’re always going to need thick skin,” she said.

She said aspiring designers who aren’t passionate about design should stop now because they’ll never survive. For those who are passionate, she said go for it and totally immerse yourself in the world of fashion.

Jasmine Maki
Jasmine Maki is a features reporter for Accent. Her main beats are arts and entertainment and life and style. She also occasionally covers health, family and TV.
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