Heavenly Truth

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Project Runway Season 8: Gretchen Jones, Master Manipulator or Misjudged?

Though it is my favorite show on television no matter what the season, season 8 of Project Runway hasn't exactly been the most scintillating of all the seasons (I still miss season 4's Christian Siriano, what can I say!?) but it did get somewhat more interesting when Tim dressed down designer Gretchen Jones for "manipulating, controlling and bullying" her team members in episode 5.

Gretchen said she was hurt by what Tim said. In her after show video blog, she said she was trying to be a cheerleader, not a leader. She said she didn't try to tell people what to make but just went around making sure people finished what they'd committed to.

Gretchen-jonesGretchen has a Capricorn Sun, as well as Mercury in Capricorn conjunct her south node, so she comes with a wealth of instinctual knowledge about how to get things done. She is practical and has a good sense of how to manage time and materials in general, but also an inherent ability to strategize. Not only does Capricorn provide that ability, but Mercury so close to her south node means she inherently comes with a strong and logical mind. When she focuses on a goal, she immediately starts working out the steps to get there.

Capricorn has been called the sign of the 'manager' because of these traits of know-how coupled with an ability to see how the bigger picture needs to shape up. When Gretchen was "making sure people finished what they'd committed to," she was in prime Capricorn form. Capricorn is not known for it's compassion or sensitivity, mostly because of another saying that we find in the astrological literature of Capricorn frequently which is the phrase "ends justify the means." Capricorn is more concerned with getting to the goal than how it gets there. A Capricorn ideally wants to live with integrity and be thought of well, but it's often not about being liked rather than being respected. Getting what they set out to do done and being a person of their word is a Capricorn intention.

However, the excesses of Capricorn's fixation on the end goal can end up manipulative. While Capricorn isn't sneaky in the same way that maybe Scorpio or Gemini might be, they can be quite hungry for accomplishment and prestige. Gretchen seemed to suffer from hubris after her first two wins right out of the gate which probably fueled her solar ego and allowed The Boss to come out, steering others, however indirectly or unintentionally, toward the ends she wanted.

Her seeming backpedaling (according to the judges, not her) on her opinion of Team Luxe's collection (first she seems proud of it, then she's calling it garbage that she had to salvage) can be attributed to her Mars in Libra. For Libra, everything is relative, and her desire for approval (Libra) clashes in her chart with her desire for respect (Capricorn) in sometimes incongruous ways, like it did in this example. We defend ourselves with our Mars too, so her style of defending herself (in Libra) is likely to be in almost siding with the opposing opinion to diffuse the confrontation. Once her Capricorn Sun was sure she wasn't aligned with a success, her Mars in Libra took over to agree and diffuse, hence the backpedaling.

Was she truly hurt by Tim's remarks? Her Pisces moon suggests she was. With Pluto conjunct Saturn in Libra, squaring her nodes, her interactions with other people are probably often the trickiest spot in her life. She probably has difficulty trusting others and sharing space with others, not out of a lack of desire, but with Capricorn being more comfortable for her (south node), the challenge of softening and sharing clashes with her independent and self-sufficient nature, so it's easier to just get things done rather than bringing people's feelings and ideas into the mix and letting it complicate things.

Her Pisces moon, though, suggests she does have a very tender heart and doesn't want to hurt others. But even her Venus in detached Aquarius makes it difficult to see her soft side until you've gained her trust. We can probably expect her to keep trooping on and getting the job done on Project Runway.

Irina Shabayeva: the Astrology of the Winner of Project Runway

Irina Shabayeva won season 6 of Project Runway with her intense and intricately crafted collection.


Irina is an Aquarius Sun with Mercury not too far behind, so it's important for her to build her identity around a sense of her own individuality, that she's not who she is because she's trying to please someone or trying to imitate someone. All through season 6 it was clear that the thing that frustrated her the most was feeling like she was being imitated by Althea, which to an Aquarius can feel like what makes you you is being stolen and cheapened when copied. Whether or not Althea had any intention to copy her, she was clearly very protective of what makes her unique, something Aquarius values greatly. With Mercury close to her Sun in Aquarius it's especially her opinions and ideas that she is likely to be the most protective about.

Among a few other things, Venus says a lot about a person's aesthetic style, what one finds beautiful and how we translate what inspires us into our creative efforts. Irina's Venus lies in Capricorn, in a tight and tense relationship (square) to Pluto and Saturn in Libra. Capricorn reflects a creative style that's refined, elegant, tailored, and in many ways understated, without so many extras and flash that it takes away from the sophistication of something. Tim always admonishes the designers to bring an editing eye to things and Irina is likely to have the least issue with overdoing it.

Venus in Capricorn with Saturn squaring it might lead to a tendency to hold back too much, to take that understated sophistication and take it to far into simply flat and boring. However, with Pluto in a very tight square to Venus, the darker undercurrents rise to the surface, creating that sort of sophisticated, gothic, almost dominatrix style.

Because I do not know her time of birth, I'm unable to determine Irina's moon sign. It will either be Pisces or Aries, but if I had to guess, I would choose Aries.  Her competitive nature would make a lot of sense for an Aries moon, who simply needs to push through to be the best and doesn't tend to reveal a lot of softness (although every sign has some, especially when we're talking about the moon which is your emotional nature, in a nutshell). The
moon represents our most private self and so is not likely to be
revealed on television or in a room full of competitors, but it can be revealed when we are stressed and our defenses are low, something I think all the designers went through as the competition got stiffer and they became more tired and their sense of security more challenged. When stress peaked, some of the designers let it show through tears, but when Irina let her stress out it usually more closely resembled anger rather than tears and she stepped more into The Boss role, especially in the finale where she was putting Gordana through her paces with the orders. If her designs are where her heart is, though, her very telling phrase "shielding yourself and just going at it" as the inspiration for her final collection is very Arien.

Irina appeared to be the one who grew to be the 'odd man out', not appearing as friendly with everyone as some were. With her Aquarius Sun and Mars trine to it, and then her Saturn and Pluto square her Venus, these combinations reflect someone who is more used to taking care of themselves and not having a lot of trust for others. To allow someone to support you, you have to allow them to see what might be perceived as weakness. Even if you are not weak, to accept help can make one feel vulnerable, something Irina is not likely to relish. Aquarians are known for their detachment, but it's not out of cruelty or disinterest in others as much as it is a useful defense mechanism to be able to pull away from the kind of obligations that can form when we get enmeshed in relationship with others and forget ourselves. Aquarius is about the pursuit of individuality, so detachment can come in very handy.

With Venus in Capricorn, squaring Pluto and Saturn, she may struggle with letting her defenses down enough to reveal her softness to another even though it's there. Venus is, besides our creativity and sense of beauty, also how we relate to others and reach out to others. Capricorn is often more reserved when it comes to connecting with others and can be much more comfortable running on its own self-sufficiency (they don't call it the sign of the hermit for nothing!) Capricorn also has a vulnerability to looking at any situation as a means to and end rather than seeing the emotional component, so Irina may possibly defend herself from feeling vulnerable to another by relating to others in a 'strictly business' kind of tone, which is not a bad thing, but she can be her own worst enemy if that gets too extreme and she doesn't allow herself to be supported or loved or give that in return. Capricorn gets the undeserved reputation of being cold, however, and it's not. It just knows that sometimes you have to get the job done and you don't have time to whine! It's probably a contributor to her win on Project Runway.

Congrats, Irina!


I look for the evolutionary potential in an astrology chart, not the empty keywords. For more of my work, visit me at or on Facebook at Heavenly.Truth.

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