Designer Interview. Catching Up with Project Runway Winner Leanne Marshall

October 13, 2009 • Fashion


We don't mess around here at Second City Style. You know by now, we love all things Project Runway. OK, maybe not this season so much, but when we get a chance to interview past and present participants we jump at the chance. I recently had the chance to speak to season 5 winner Leanne Marshall.

SCS: Have you been watching the current season of Project Runway?

LM: I hate to admit I don't watch the show now. First of all I don't have cable. Second, I liken the show to an ex-boyfriend. You get everything you want out of it, wish them well, but you are over it.

Leanne_marshall_spring_10_2 SCS: What is your niche, as a designer?

LM: Creating figure friendly, feminine, but unique designs.

SCS: Outside of being ecologically friendly, what makes your designs different?

LM: The way I work. I make everything. I don't just come up with sketches and then hand them off to a sample maker. I love draping on my forms and working organically. I have to have a hand in every aspect of my designs.

SCS: Are you still doing eco-friendly fashions?

LM: Yes. My Spring 2010 line is 100% sustainable, but production is proving to be a challenge. It's hard to maintain high quality at an affordable price. Producing a fall line that is 100% eco-friendly is an even greater challenge. I am hoping to keep it 60-70% sustainable. At least that's my goal.

SCS: Are you working on any collaborations?Leanne_marshall_spring_10_1

LM: Um, nothing set in stone as of now. My Bluefly line was just for one season.

SCS: What are current projects do you have in the works?

LM: Right now I am working on my Fall 2010 collection. I am also in the middle of production for my Spring 2010 line which I just showed during New York Fashion Week last month. And I am also working on various custom wedding dresses. I have been doing a lot of wedding dresses since the show.

Leanne_marshall_spring_10_3 SCS: You said on the show that the inspiration behind your Project Runway
collection were the waves of the ocean. Do you have image inspirations
for each of your collections, or is your process generally more organic?

LM: Well for last season, Spring 2010, I was inspired by the font (yes, font) Basic Math. I used to be a graphic designer and I can spend hours on image book marking sites. Ultimately one lead me to a font that inspired my collection.

For Fall 2010 I seem to be working backwards. I am sculpting first and seeing what happens. My geographical region alsoLeanne_marshall_spring_10_4 seems to greatly influence what I am doing. When I lived and worked in Seattle I was more into curves and color. Now that I live and work in NYC I am more inspired by clean lines and geometrically squared off forms.

SCS: What is your day-to-day life like now?

LM: I walk to my studio, answer emails, start working which to me means draping on my dress form which I love to do. I am back to working normal hours now, but the month before fashion week I was working 14-15 hour days! I was exhausted.

SCS: Are you still in touch with any of the Season 5 Project Runway alumni?

LM: Yes! I am very good friends with Suede. He's a sweetheart. I am also still very friendly with Stella and Jerrell.

Shop for Leanne Marshall at

– Lauren Dimet Waters

Photos: Leanne Marshall's Spring 2010 line.

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