Wow! Congrats to Leanne Marshall of Leanimal (and former Merc graphic designer), who was just announced as a contender on the new season of Project Runway! I just spoke with her briefly, but she needs to have a handler from Bravo on the line before I can ask any real questions. I'll update this post as soon as we're done on the phone!


The season debuts tomorrow at 9 pm on Bravo!

UPDATE! (Got her on the horn w/Bravo handler listening in). Check after the break for a Q&A!

This is the second time for you to have auditioned for Project Runway. What was different this time?

The first time I made it through the first round, but I was definitely a better designer by the second--I probably wouldn't have been ready for it if I had made it the first time. In between I had a lot of development in my design point of view. My point of view is very strong now.

Without knowing the results of the show, what can you tell me about your plans?

This was a huge opportunity to get name recognition, and I'd like to get a production system going--I'll probably be moving to New York within the next six months. I really want to make a name for myself in fashion. The scene in Portland has been really supportive, and it's a great place to be as a new designer.

There certainly are a lot of reasons as a designer to move to New York. What are the biggest for you?

Just that there are so many production houses, countless fabric sources, the magazines and editors, and New York Fashion Week.

Did your experience on the show alter your goals as a designer?

It's not a change of goals, it's just enhanced. I've always wanted to show in NY Fashion Week, and I wanted to use this as a tool to get my name out there. I mean, I'm broke! I'm a struggling designer, and it's really hard to get any investors or any kind of backing. I want to take it to the next level, and doing the show is the perfect vehicle to do that.

Portland is going to miss you!

It's going to be really hard to leave! I really wasn't that serious about it until I came here and realized that was what I wanted to do. I was inspired by Portland designers like Adam Arnold and Holly Stalder.

It's interesting, though, that a lot of Portland designers haven't really pursued the route of aspiring to be a big name.

I've always wanted to be in New York Fashion Week, I knew I had to be since I was a little kid! I really want to make a name for myself, really make it happen.

Did the challenges in the show lead you to expand your line to new areas of design? Menswear? Swimwear?

I definitely got out of my comfort zone and got a stronger sense of what I am good at and what my strengths are, which is essentially what I've already been doing!