The self-described ''fashion dork'' who blossomed into the show's top designer takes a break from the hoopla to chat about petal power (she's had enough), keeping her win a secret (her beat-up car helped), and her newest fan (a very style-savvy celeb)
Last night 28-year-old Leanne Marshall of Portland, Ore., took home Project Runway‘s $100,000 prize. The judges fell in love with her line of dresses, jackets, pants, and vests, all covered in petals and inspired by waves. Before she makes the big move to New York City (talk about diving into the fashion deep end!), she rang up EW.com to talk about the annoyance that was Kenley, whether she’ll ever sew another petal, and who might be a future customer (hint: Her initials are S.J.P.).
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Congratulations, Leanne! So, has it sunk in yet?
LEANNE MARSHALL: Yeah, finally! I’m so excited, I just wanna dance and celebrate. I mean, I’ve known for like a month, so it’s been like ”Okay, don’t act too happy.”
Do you think you’ll do any petals ever again?
I think I’m all petaled out, that’s what I told the judges afterward. It’s just been a thing I’ve been into the last few months, but it’s certainly out of my system. I’m not a one-trick pony, and you’re going to see a lot more from me other than petals.
Are you working on anything now, or are you taking some time off?
I took a few weeks off after everything, but now I’m back to work, making dresses to sell. I’m already thinking about my next collection, and I’ve sort of started to work on it. The things that I do that turn out pretty great, I play around with and experiment. I love just taking the fabric and folding it and pleating it and twisting it. Just playing with the materials is the way I come up with some of the more incredible things I do.
NEXT PAGE: Leanne talks about who she though would be in the top three and clearing the air with Kenley
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Did you expect that it would end up with you, Kenley, and Korto in the top three?
LEANNE MARSHALL: Yeah. I definitely thought that Terri was a really strong designer too. It was really hard to tell in the beginning who the strongest designers were going to be. I could see a few. Certainly by the fourth challenge I had a pretty clear picture.
The producers boil down hours and hours of tape into sound bites and a few interviews with you. What do you think of the way they portrayed you? Was it pretty much who you are, or are there other sides of Leanne we didn’t see?
It’s me. For all of us, we said these things, we did these things. I was portrayed pretty accurately. I’m pretty quiet, but when I’ve got something good to say, I’ll say it. I’m basically a huge fashion dork. I like to have fun. I really don’t care if I look like a fool doing it.
When fans see you now, do you get a lot of response from them? What kinds of things do they say to you when they see you on the street?
Yeah! It’s been awesome. It’s so sweet and flattering to have people come up to you and say they love you and are rooting for you. The most frequent question I get, and I know Korto said she gets this a lot too, is ”Is Kenley really that mean?”
Yeah, Kenley has dominated this season. I’m interested in your take on that. On the show you guys are clearly disdainful of her. How are you feeling about her these days, now that there’s been some time?
You know, it’s all cooled over. The air has been cleared. It definitely got heated, and it festered, and it got pretty intense in that last episode before we went to Bryant Park. It was tough to be in a competition with her; she gets really defensive and was a really competitive person who tends to say whatever comes out of her mouth without thinking about it.
I know for me it wasn’t always what she said but how she said it.
It was a little disrespectful.
Right. So, after you won, what did Korto and Kenley say to you? Did they congratulate you?
They did. But of course, they were disappointed and a little sad. But I think they handled it well.
What about Tim and Heidi? Did they say anything more extensive?
It’s all such a blur. I just remember being on such a high and dancing around. They were just so, so happy for me, and congratulating me, and saying they look forward to what I do in the future.
NEXT PAGE: Leanne on her celebrity fans and not having enough money to buy shoes
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Who’s been asking you to make clothes for them?
LEANNE MARSHALL: Sarah Jessica Parker! I guess she watched the show last night, and she was chatting with [Bravo programming VP] Andy Cohen, and she said she was a fan, and she wants to be my customer. It’s amazing. When I was creating my collection, I listened to music all day, but at night I would kind of feel lonely and want someone to talk to, so I watched every episode of Sex and the City.
Who would you say was the one person that you just died when you met?
Diane von Furstenberg. She was just such an inspiration, such an amazing person.
So, are you driving the Saturn you won all around?
[Laughs] Not yet, I don’t have it yet. People in Portland would watch me when I came out of the grocery store and check out what car I got into, and I would get into my clunker that’s about to break down, and they would go, ”Oh, well, she lost.”
Speaking of Portland, you have this sustainable-fabric thing you do, and you live in Portland, which is a little, you know, crunchy granola. Do you plan to make the move to New York?
Yeah, I’m definitely moving to New York with my boyfriend. I want to be in New York fashion, and I want to show every season, so this is the time to go.
Would you want to join a design house? Have you gotten any offers?
I haven’t really gotten any offers. I learned soon after I graduated from FIDM [Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in California] that I wanted to work under my own name and design for myself. Maybe I could design under somebody else, but right now I want to be the big boss.
So now your line will be sold on BlueFly.com. How does that work? Do they mass-produce your line?
They don’t. They just do the retail. I’m going to have to sew everything myself, start a production company, and have other people help me out since I can only do so much myself.
And obviously your $100,000 goes toward your line, but what do you indulge in now?
The ironic thing is I’m so broke I can’t even buy myself a pair of shoes, so maybe that’s what I’ll do: Buy myself a pair of shoes. Maybe put off paying some bills.
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