INTERVIEWS

Laurie Underwood Talks Style, Success + Project Runway

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Laurie Underwood is a young, fashion entrepreneur and will be on season 14 of Project Runway where she will showcase her line of chic, colorful, and versatile ready-to-wear pieces. Laurie knew she wanted to be in fashion since she was 9, when she began designing and creating her own clothes. After graduating from The Illinois Institute of Art, she launched her Wanda Grace clothing line.wanda-grace-Collage

Laurie Underwood shared her design aesthetic and inspiration behind Wanda Grace. She likes her clothes to be very ladylike, feminine, but fun at the same time.

“It’s how I was brought up, very feminine but still fun at the same time. Not so modest, but I’m not out here showing my ass. You can be sexy and not show all of your skin. The back of a woman is very sexy. That’s the inspiration for my brand and the inspiration for my own personal style.”

Laurie always knew that this is what she was going to be doing. “I manifested this when I was just nine-years-old and I’m actually living it. I decided that I wanted to be a fashion designer and I stuck with that.” She was motivated by the drive that she had when she was a little girl. She stayed busy and her mother kept her involved in extracurricular activities. Overall, she was motivated to pursue a career in fashion because she had drive and was always motivated to do whatever it is she wanted to do. “I always knew that I would be in fashion and to make that happen it was my responsibility to keep on that path.”PRs14_060915_BN-0159

 

Laurie has some words of advice for striving entrepreneurs who want to get out there and start their own business. “Never give up on your dreams, I know it sounds cliche but it’s the honest to God truth. Never give up and don’t be afraid to step out on what you believe in. Let your passion lead you to your purpose.”

Laurie has two favorite clothing items. One of them she designed, and it’s the Joan pant. It’s a high waisted, wide-legged pant named after Tracee Ellis Ross’ character from ‘Girlfriends,” Joan. She loves both Tracee Ellis Ross and Joan, so she designed a pant that was inspired by her style on that show. The Joan pant is a versatile piece and can be dressed down with a T-shirt or dressed up with a cute crop top. The second item is the pencil skirt.

Laurie believes every woman should have a dress in her closet.

“A fitted dress. A cute dress, something that you can dress up and dress down. She can go to work, put a jacket over it, girls night out after work she can take the jacket off and her back is out. Something that’s fun but you can hide the fun during the day and show the fun at night. I love a cutsy dress, and it doesn’t have to be black. I’m so sick of the little black dress I don’t know what to do.”LAURIE_SINGLE (1)

Laurie loves colors and urges women not to be afraid of wearing bold colors like aqua and fuchsia. “That’s life, there’s colors all around us so get out of the blacks, get out of the whites and get the aqua color dress, that fuchsia dress and make it work.”

Laurie is originally from Detroit and moved to Chicago for fashion school. She admits that both Detroit and Chicago had an influence on her as a designer. She acknowledges that Detroit was and still is known for its stand out fashion.

“Detroit has a fashion foundation and it may not be as high fashion as New York fashion is but there’s a fashion presence in Detroit. Growing up in the Baptist church, people love getting dressed up. They would get dressed up to go to a Sunday service. For me growing up in Detroit in a single parent household, the only access I had to fashion was my family, my church home. My mother didn’t buy fashion magazines. I didn’t buy fashion magazines. I probably didn’t get my first fashion magazine until I moved to Chicago for design school.”

img_2281Once she moved to Chicago there was a huge influence on fashion. She remembers feeling like she made it when she went there. It was bigger than Detroit but smaller than New York, and it was so close to her family that she was satisfied.

“I was content. I was happy. I participated as a director in Fashion Weeks that were in Chicago, I got to meet designers, and I dressed high fashion models for high fashion runways, and I worked for Rocawear Midwest Sales Team here in Chicago. I interned for them. Fashion here in Chicago definitely had an influence on me and still does, and my roots with fashion come from Detroit. This is just where I’m surviving at right now which is in Chicago.”

 

Laurie is in a relationship and have a beautiful daughter, so she stays pretty busy with both her personal and professional life. She “honestly” said that she has no balance right now. “I get up every morning, I write five things I’m grateful for, I make sure I do my prayer and meditation without knowing how the day is going to go. I can start designing or I can start being mother or I can start being girlfriend. Each day is different, there’s really no balance but I just do it.”  Whatever she needs to do she does it. She knows that you just have to get up and do what you have to do and she not afraid to say there is no balance because “there just ain’t no balance right now.” She knows there’ll be balance in the future but right now there’s no balance, and she’s okay with that.

When she’s not working she likes to watch Netflix and catch up on The Walking Dead, The 100, and Orange is The New Black, with popcorn.

What’s next for Laurie Underwood?

“More fashion that is consistent with my brand. Just more of me. A lot of times as the owner of your brand you’re afraid to put yourself out there because you’re afraid of what people may say or what people may think. I’m over being fearful. I think if I can go on Project Runway I can do anything. I’m going to step forward regardless of what people think about my brand. I do this for me so I think a lot of people can expect me to be fearless going forward.”

Project Runway has taught her to be that way. She’s had the worst things said, and she’s had the best things said on Project Runway and if she can survive that she can survive anything going forward. People should just expect her to be fearless. Lastly “Project Runway Season 14 is going to be very entertaining so tune in.”LAURIE_SINGLE (1)LAURIE_SINGLE (1)

Keep up with Laurie:

Instagram: designerlaurieu

Facebook: Wanda Grace

Twitter: designerlaurieu

Follow on Pinterest

 

Visit Wandagrace.com

I'm a recent graduate from the University of Michigan. I'm excited to enjoy this journey we call life through writing and presenting entertainment news.

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