REVENGE OF THE NERD: Leanne Marshall Wins Project Runway
By Anne Bratskeir
It all came down to girl power in Project Runway’s Season Five finale.
And of the last three female designers standing, Leanne Marshall, 28, of
Portland, Ore., who was the show’s definitive shrinking violet, proved that
beneath the nerdy glasses and the goofy demeanor, her talent loomed largest. She
was the mouse that roared.
"I am a fashion nerd," said a very happy Marshall in a phone interview Wednesday. "I just love to have fun, and I’m not afraid of kind of being a dork.”
As for the whole Project Runway shebang, she said, “Without a doubt it’s been the most amazing experience. I would
do it again in a heartbeat.”
Armed with $8,000 for materials and the directive to incorporate a wedding dress into a 12-piece final collection, Marshall’s vision played like a dream sequence on the runway at Bryant Park’s Fashion Week in September. Inspired by rippling water, her two-color palette was soft aqua and cream with a distinct architectural feel including details such as fan-like pleats.
Neither a favorite nor a dark horse, Marshall was a solid contender, who, during the season’s 14 episodes won two challenges -- one using seat covers from a Saturn
car, and another for creating a look for Diane von Furstenberg’s fall collection.
During the finale, the judges took Marshall to task for being "borderline on a one-note," she said. "But I knew I needed my collection to fit together."
Though her two co-finalists, Korto Momolu, 33, of Little Rock, Ark., and Kenley Collins, 25, of Pompano Beach, Fla., exhibited much stronger personalities throughout the season (in fact, Collins was the show’s prerequisite villainess), their collections fell short of Marshall’s, both lacking the cohesiveness and technical skill. As for that evidently hostile relationship with Collins, Marshall said, “We started off as friends but the competition became kind of cutthroat. All Kenley’s relationships kind of deteriorated. There’s a level of respect that she didn’t really have all the time. But
I don’t hate her. I wish her the best.”
Marshall’s Project Runway booty includes $100,000 seed money from Tresemme to start a clothing business and she is doing just that. She’ll soon be
moving to New York to start her new label, “Leanne Marshall.” Musician boyfriend Nathan McKee, who composed her runway music at the finale, is coming
along. “I guess I’m going to have to buy a lot of fabric with it,” she said. She also wins a 2009 Saturn VUE hybrid, a spread in Elle Magazine and a chance
to sell her fashion line on bluefly.com
As for season six? The hit show will go on but will not be aired on Bravo. Instead it moves to a new location, Los Angeles, and a new network, Lifetime -- depending on the lawsuits still at play with the Weinstein company and the two networks. It was originally scheduled to premiere in November but may be pushed back to January.
We’re kind of wondering if without the New York backdrop and Parsons School of Design . . .well, will it be in or out?