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Columbia Falls Native Showcases Fashion Wares on Popular Lifetime Show
Brady Lange featured on “Project Runway” spinoff “Under the Gunn”
Columbia Falls native Brady Lange on the set of “Project Runway” spinoff “Under the Gunn.” - Photo courtesy Adam Taylor | Lifetime
Fashionistas likely wouldn’t peg Montana as an epicenter of style, but Columbia Falls native Brady Lange, who recently described one of his clothing designs as appealing to a “girly tomboy” who wears heels and shoots a gun, has elevated a measure of the Treasure State’s aesthetic to the national stage.

With a flair for street wear that’s “bright, fun and youthful,” Lange acknowledges that Montana isn’t known for crop tops and mini-skirts, and you won’t find legions of haute couture models traipsing down a catwalk.

Still, there’s something about the wide open, unrestrained spaces that informs Lange’s work, which has recently been met with positive reception on the Lifetime fashion competition series “Under the Gunn,” a “Project Runway” spinoff that premiered Jan. 16.
“Montana always has a really close place in my heart and always influences me and what I do, even if it’s not blatantly obvious,” Lange said. “There’s a sense of freedom and adventure that I take from growing up in Montana. It’s in the core of my inspiration.”

Lange, 29, who’s lived in Portland for the past decade, previously auditioned for “Project Runway” but didn’t make the final cut. When the Lifetime network contacted him about appearing on “Under the Gunn,” a spinoff hosted by fashion maven Tim Gunn that came about after Heidi Klum was unavailable for another season of “Project Runway,” he jumped at the opportunity.

After working for Portland fashion luminary Adam Arnold, from whom he learned volumes about the industry, Lange launched his own label last year and peddles his wares at BradyLange.com.

“In the last year I’ve really been getting a great response. It’s been kind of crazy because I feel like I’ve had a lot of things happen in the last year,” he said. “I feel really fortunate to live in Portland, because it’s a creative community that fosters good design. It’s really supportive.”

Since the show’s first three episodes have aired (the season features 13 episodes), Lange said the spotlight on his career has broadened and brightened exponentially.

“It’s totally impacted my career in a positive way. It’s just kind of boosted me and has gotten me a lot of publicity and upped my sales. It’s been really positive,” he said. “It’s been slightly overwhelming but really cool. Overwhelming in a good way.”
The concept of the show preserves elements of “Project Runway” while changing and adding others.

The first episode saw a group of 15 designers — including Lange — gather in Los Angeles. But only 12 designers made it through. To winnow the field, the designers were broken into two groups. The first, which included Lange, did an initial challenge to determine which designers would continue.

Hosted by Gunn, the show follows “Project Runway” alumni Mondo Guerra, Anya Ayoung-Chee and Nick Verreos, who as “mentors” are tasked with managing, coaching and directing the designers. Designer Rachel Roy, celebrity stylist Jen Rade and Marie Claire senior fashion editor Zanna Roberts Rassi serve as the judges. In the first two episodes, Gunn presents a challenge to the designers while Guerra, Chee and Verreos assess the skill level of the contestants and determine which four designers will be a part of their teams. In the following episodes, Gunn presents new challenges to mentors as they tease out the best in their designers and guide them through the competition.

Each team will then compete in a series of challenges until one alumni and one designer remain.

On the first episode, the designers were asked to create a look that showed their distinctive vision. Early on, Lange seemed to be a favorite and all three mentors were impressed by his portfolio and street style.

Using fabrics that were supplied, Lange made a pencil skirt out of a wild print, topped with a black, cropped tee. In interview sound bites, Lange said he would want Mondo as a mentor. Guerra thought “a trillion girls” would want to wear the looks Lange creates, and expressed his ambition to have Lange on his team.

In the workroom, Lange seemed calm and collected.

Then the mentors, after consulting the designers’ portfolios and observing them in the workroom, saw the clothes on the runway. After the runway show, mentors chose their designers —both Ayoung-Chee and Verreos wanted Lange, who chose the former.

“We had to make an outfit that was reflective of our style to show the mentors. I basically had one chance to try to impress them and it was really fun to get that experience,” he said. “I personally really like constructive criticism. So getting it from people who have been in the industry was really beneficial.”

The winning contestant receives a cash prize of $100,000, a sewing and embroidery studio from Brother Industries, an all-expense paid trip to Paris, a 2014 Lexus CT 200h and the opportunity to design a collection sold exclusively at francesca’s. The winning mentor receives a 2014 Lexus CT 200h, a fashion spread in Marie Claire magazine and a spot as guest editor for one year.

Lange could not say if or when he leaves the show, which he’s been watching with friends at a neighborhood bar every week.

“It’s interesting seeing yourself on TV. It’s totally bizarre. It’s a surreal experience,” he said.

Although he’s always been interested in fashion, he didn’t understand how to channel his creativity toward clothing until college, when his style flourished.

“As a kid I was always drawing clothes and doing fashion sketches, but as a career it just kind of happened,” he said.
 
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