She was the least confident of the 12 designers and struggled to show any faith in her creative skills, but that didn't get in the way of Victorian design graduate Christina Exie claiming victory on season four of Project Runway Australia last night.
Shy and reserved by nature, the 22-year-old admitted that, while she was thankful for the opportunities that had come her way, she initially had apprehensions about going on the show.
"I was actually going to pull out of Project Runway when I found out I got in because I wasn't sure about it," she told Access All Areas by phone yesterday.
"Obviously being on a TV show, you put a lot on the line and people are going to see you and the transparency of what you do, so it's a big risk in this industry.
"Having all those cameras around was something that I really struggled with, I don't really like that, and I think that's what made it really difficult for me."
So it came as a surprise that, after being eliminated on the show two weeks ago, Exie was one of two designers chosen to return and vie for a place in the finals.
"When I got back in, I pretty much took myself out of the equation," Exie explained. "I just thought, 'Well, it's really nice they gave me a second chance and give me the opportunity to show my work'."
Despite having to go up against tough competition - fellow finalists Jamie Ashkar, Tristan Melle and Leah Da Gloria - in the end it was Exie's unique, experimental avant-garde collection that stole the runway at the finale.
"I actually didn't think that I'd win," Exie said.
"I actually thought I was dreaming, everything was foggy and I was like 'Oh my gosh, what has just happened?'"
While there was some cattiness towards the end of the show - mainly initiated by outspoken bridal and evening gown designer Da Gloria - Exie said she had a good relationship with all the competitors.
"Look, to be honest, I respect everyone for the way they express their emotions and it came to a point where (Leah) became just as stressed as me - she just handled it differently," she said.
"I understand it's a competition but I'm the type of person where I am my own competition at the end of the day. If I'm supposed to win it and it's supposed to happen, then it's going to happen and that doesn't mean I have to spite other people."Having spent the past few months researching and designing her latest collection to showcase on the runway at the 2013 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week - which is her reward for winning the series - Exie also has plans to put her winning collection into production and later venture overseas to check out in the European fashion scene.
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