Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Leanne Wins Project Runway Season 5

Catty Kenley Collins may have been the one to bare her claws each week, but in the end, it was the quiet, timid Leanimal who prevailed as Project Runway's top sewer for Season 5.
"It's amazing and I'm so honored," said Leanne Marshall hours before the finale aired Wednesday on Bravo (Leanimal is the name of her clothing line). "When (judge) Heidi (Klum) said my name, I was in shock and it didn't feel real."
Marshall, who was nearly auf-ed in the second episode, triumphed with a collection marked by sculptural, wave-inspired shapes in soothing shades. "Thank God, because I can't even handle it if it was someone else. I'd be so over it," said Season 4 winner Christian Siriano. "I won't say that I think she has the most entertaining personality in the world because she's kind of boring, but hers was by far the most well-made, cohesive, beautiful and interesting collection."
Marshall's comrade Korto Momolu was named runner-up. Collins, who routinely clashed with contestants and judges, took third.
Season 5 was Project Runway's highest rated yet, but the show has hit a snag. Bravo's parent company, NBC Universal, has sued Runway's producer, The Weinstein Company, to block the series' move to Lifetime. (Season 6, shooting now in Los Angeles instead of New York, was scheduled to premiere in January.) A judge granted a temporary injunction, and the suit is unresolved.
The cloudy future has left a bit of a "bad taste in people's mouths," said Molly Goodson, editor of gossip site PopSugar. "Because there's all this controversy surrounding this show that's a lot of fun."
Moreover, despite Collins' occasional conniptions, fans have grumbled that this season the drama was dulled, the talent marginal. Regarding the latter, "I strongly disagree," Marshall, 28, said. "Maybe we didn't always show our best work in the challenges," but "people really, really underestimate how difficult it is."
Difficult especially considering the previous cycle, "when Christian was such a big personality," Goodson said. "All season long it was clearly the Christian Siriano show," and this time around, "there were no huge breakout stars."
"It was a tough season to come after," Siriano said. "We kind of peaked."
Still, the sassy sartorialist's success is "definitely an inspiration" to Marshall, who plans to move from Portland, Ore., to New York, hire a team "so that I don't have to sew 24 hours a day like I do now," and change the name of her label to Leanne Marshall. "I just think Leanimal didn't quite fit my line," she said. "People always asked if I did a lot of animal prints." Like her predecessor, she's hoping to stage a solo show at New York Fashion Week in February.
Which means Marshall needs to put the pedal to the treadle. "It's really scary. She has to get on it now because it's so much work," said Siriano, who met Marshall when he helped critique a challenge. "She was very sweet, very shy. She needs to step it up a little bit or she's going to be eaten alive."
Though the economy will no doubt add another snag, "luckily, so many doors will open up, and once they hear you knocking, they treat you just so differently. That she should look forward to."
Marshall said she's always been about clothing, not charisma. "I am a more quiet and reserved person. I'll say something when I have something good to say, but I'm not going to be loud and obnoxious just to be loud and obnoxious. So I knew I just had to be the strongest designer I could be."

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