TWO YEARS AGO, Portland got a big—if debatably dubious—break in the fashion world when Leanne Marshall competed on and won the fifth season of Project Runway. Now, another Portland designer has found her way onto the show: Janeane Marie Ceccanti, better known in local fashion circles as simply Janeane Marie. One of a handful of Pacific Northwest designers to audition (Vancouver, WA's Seth Aaron Henderson also made the cut), and Leanne's former intern, Ceccanti made her televised debut on Thursday, January 14.

MERCURY: How did Leanne's experience affect your decision to audition?

JANEANE MARIE CECCANTI: We didn't talk about the show too much. I didn't want to bug her about it. Honestly, I never thought I would do Project Runway. I was really conflicted because I think it has a label and a stigma, and a brand that's bigger than what yours ever would be, and I thought that might be a hindrance to making a name for the sake of your designs.

What do you hope to get out of it?

Fashion is such a weird animal. You can't do anything new, and you can't do anything unwearable, but if you're too wearable you won't stand out. So this is exposure that you'd otherwise spend your whole career and all your cash on getting. The other side of that is like, okay, when the show's over and you're trying to get your clothes in the boutiques you want, and on the people you want you're "insert designer name... Project Runway contestant."

You've said that rather than leave Portland you want to be part of making it better for designers. Can you elaborate on that?

I really love this city and I'm really inspired by it. It's not too big, it's not too small, and it's jam-packed with great ideas. I feel like if we create a scene of 20 or 30 high-quality designers, the resources will follow. Portland doesn't have to be New York or Los Angeles or London, and we can still do what we're doing, here. I think it's a really good time to be in Portland. Everyone in New York knows what's going on here. It makes sense to have a feeling that if you're going to be a success you have to go to New York, but for all the conveniences they have, they also have all the expenses and chaos. If I can't make it in Portland, I'm not going to go try to make it in New York.

See Janeane Marie Ceccanti on Project Runway every Thursday at 10 pm, and hit for weekly post-show wrap-ups as well as all things local fashion.