Project Runway: Snapshots of the final runway

Matt Busekroos

On Oct. 15, Leanne Marshall was announced as the fifth winner of Bravo’s “Project Runway.” As the winner of “Project Runway,” Leanne will receive an editorial feature in ELLE magazine, $100,000 from TRESemmé to start her own line and she is given the opportunity to sell her clothes on In addition to those perks, Leanne was awarded a 2009 Saturn VUE Hybrid and representation by the Designer’s Management Agency for her efforts.

Leanne Marshall’s consistency and intricate design aesthetic made her win unsurprising and somewhat expected as the season came to a close. Leanne’s architectural and mechanical thinking made her pieces intriguing enough to anticipate every week. While Leanne suffered a bit early in the season for overworking one of her outfits (and came close to elimination), she sewed her way back to the top to impress the judges. In the process, Leanne won two individual challenges on her road to victory.

As a native of Portland, Ore., Leanne sketched nature, and she used the ripples and waves of water as a theme to her collection. Using white and blue, among other light colors, Leanne took her designs to the next level as the only designer to incorporate shorts, a long dress and pants into her show.

Korto Momolu (runner-up) and Kenley Collins (second runner-up) rounded out the finalists who showed at Bryant Park, alongside winner Leanne Marshall. Momolu’s inspiration for her collection was rooted from her African descent. She used various fabrics and colors (including dark yellow, green and gray) to display her traditional design aesthetic. Firecracker and resident troublemaker, Kenley, turned out a visually stimulating collection, which was modeled somewhat after “Alice in Wonderland.” Her color palette and use of peculiar patterns made for an absorbing show; however, two of her dresses were believed to be close in design to Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen. In the end, Kenley’s blasé attitude towards fashion history, and oftentimes-disrespectful tone to the judges, may have cost her the competition.

This season of “Project Runway” left some fans cold due to the more outrageous contestants hogging precious screen time. Their behavior almost made last season’s “fierce” winner, Christian Siriano, seem subdued.

As this show begins to age, future contestants are aware of the personalities that make it onto the show and the ample amount of screen time they receive for their eccentric personalities. Whether those personalities are authentic or fake is questionable and furthers the distinction of reality television as a deadly toxin. Unfortunately, it is inescapable from the current climate of television.

From Blayne Walsh trying to make “girlicious” into a new catchphrase, to Stella Zotis’ obsession with leather, the personalities almost monopolized the show without having the quality designs to warrant all the attention. Blayne’s fervent obsession with all things “licious” seemed like a desperate attempt to steal the thunder of the aforementioned Christian Siriano and his numerous phrases that caught on like wildfire (so much that “Saturday Night Live” famously parodied Siriano with Amy Poehler doing an uncanny impression.)

With the fifth season coming to a close, the future of “Project Runway” is up in the air as the Weinstein Company (who produce the show) are entangled in a legal battle with NBC Universal following a deal made with the Lifetime network to be the new host for the show. NBC Universal is the plaintiff in the contentious lawsuit and it is their concession that in the original deal made with the Weinstein Company, Bravo (a subsidiary of NBC Universal) was allowed first chance to renew the show if they were able to offer the best price. Nonetheless, Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn, Michael Kors and Nina Garcia continue to film the sixth season of the show; however, it is unknown when and exactly where the show will air.

As host Heidi Klum says every week, “you’re either in or you’re out.” Leanne Marshall is “in” and her journey for success in the industry has only just begun.