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It was a "Project Runway" shocker to viewers who had been watching the show all season when Gretchen Jones was named the winner of the $100,000 prize over Mondo Guerra, who had seemed to be the judges' favorite in the past few weeks. Mondo did change his mind at the last minute at the Fashion Week fashion show and included his long, polka-dotted evening dress that judges Michael Kors and Nina Garcia hadn't liked the previous week, but that Heidi Klum had, in lieu of a more conservative black dress. It seemed from listening to the judges' discussion following the show that that could have made a difference in the outcome.
"I made that dress because I felt like I needed it. I initially walked into the final taping of the show with that dress in the collection," Mondo tells ET. "I was going to close the show with that black dress. But you know what? I really decided at the end that I didn't need that black dress. That black dress was chiffon and silk. It was me, but it wasn't me to the point that I would be really proud of showing it on the main stage."
So Mondo rolled the dice and lost, acknowledging that we can't turn back time, and adding that he doesn't regret his decision. "I was really happy with what I presented. Looking back, I wouldn't change a thing. It was exactly the way it was supposed to happen and for that I am very grateful."
As for Gretchen, she gives ET her take on the fact that the judges were evenly split: Michael and Nina picked her as the winner, while Heidi and guest judge Jessica Simpson were pro Mondo: "The people that I reached were the ones I was really hoping to. I wanted Nina and Michael to be impressed. I felt that they are both representatives of the type of people I need. I need fashion editors to believe in me and see work from me. I wanted the respect of a fellow designer that I admire and who has a career that I am to aspire to. That meant a lot to me."
While Mondo points out, "In the beginning, Nina was, 'I want to pick two winners.' What is crazy for me, I had Heidi, Nina and Jessica on my team. The only one that wasn't on my team was Michael, so how did the tables turn? How did Michael persuade the final decision? I don't know how it works."
As for Gretchen's portrayal on the series this season, which came off as bitchy and controlling, she says, "Going on the show there is risk involved. We say what we say. It is television that needs to be provoking and make you want to watch…. I was being honest about how I felt about what was being presented. I was also being honest about the people I was there with. I tried to stay open and learn and grow and have fun with the people that I competed against, but I also wanted to win. I think that is an important distinction."
The most heartfelt moment of this season's "Project Runway" came during the challenge in which the designers were able to create their own fabric. Mondo created a print that had pluses in the design, and when asked what it meant to him, he explained that he was HIV positive, but that he hadn't been able to tell his family. In fact, talking about it on the show was the first time he had gone public with it.
He has since told his family, but he waited until four days before that episode aired because he didn't know what to expect from them and he knew he needed to focus on his designs for Fashion Week and not add any drama to his life. When he finally did have the conversation, he was happily surprised.
"It was at a small dinner with my partner, my mom, my dad and my sister," he tells ET. "There is no easy way to do it. I have been waiting 10 years to talk about it. I basically laid it on the table and waited for their response. What they told me was that they loved me and that our family is a very strong family and we will get through this together. I really underestimated the power of their unconditional love. It has made me a better person. Now, I can be exactly who I am in front of my entire family. I don't have to be the quiet one hiding."