Leanne Marshall, Season 5 PROJECT RUNWAY Winner – NYFW, Spring ’16

Lauren Leanne

“You’re either in, or you’re out.” So says supermodel Heidi Klum on Project Runway. The same show where fashion designer Leanne Marshall got her big start as the winner of Season 5. But she hasn’t stopped there. A staple now at each New York Fashion Week – and several others throughout the world – the winning designer opened this year’s ambitious show on the morning of September 10th, aka Day 1 of NYFW.

Jill Zarin (Real Housewives Of New York), Phillip Bloch (TV personality and stylist to Halle Berry and Salma Hayek), Jenn Lilley (Days of our Lives), and Cyrene Tankard (Bravo’s Thicker Than Water) were among the celebs to fill the VIP front row.

Showcasing forty-three future closet must-haves for Spring ’16, the designer envisions both a hard-edged urban look and an enchanting, ethereal world for next year’s social season. The show was broken down into four storylines.


The first set featured eleven dresses: all black organza, leather or twill with mesh draping, bust details, beading and cutouts. For the penultimate New Yorker who carries her NYC edge through to her eveningwear. Makeup was rock-star edged smoky eyes paired with slicked-back, straight hair.  Models walked through hazy smoke and the DJ kept on theme with hard-edged techno beats pumping as well. Don’t care for an entire closet of all-black? My favorite here was a sexy mini-dress with leather bust details and cutouts along the waist. Perfect to add a dramatic flair to anyone’s look.

Next up: Eleven shades of blue (dresses). Navy and royal blue shades paraded down the catwalk in organza silks and chiffons with pops of ivory, ombre, sultry cutouts and frayed denim detailing. Hems ranged from tea-length to floor-length gowns with some daring deep V-necks on top to compliment some of the cutouts and mesh detailing. My absolute favorite here is a blue and ombre silk organza tea-length dress with elegant draping. The dress, a standout on the catwalk, is sure to get you plenty of attention in any party you might attend. The richness of the hues in this dress is dramatic without being too over-the-top. Perfect for a black tie-event. Both hair and makeup here were styled much looser and quite beautiful.


The show moved on to its third story, lightening up to sky-blues with pops of purple – Spring color staples!   Here, the designer presented us with eleven easy-to-wear everyday outfit combos. She even offered a pair of white silk twill shorts and paired it with a lovely multi-colored silk organza top. Her collection continued to center around organza fabric but with a lighter touch. Tank dresses, spaghetti strapped gowns, and deep V-necks charged down the catwalk. Makeup was softer and hair was kept loose with romantic waves. My favorite here was a multi-colored ombre silk organza short-sleeved dress with asymmetrical drape. Lovely!

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Rounding out the show with ten stunning looks, the models strutted down the runway looking like visions of woodland nymphs. Foliage-decorated headpieces crowned the models, knighting them Queens of the Forest, as they paraded past in organza dresses with flutter sleeves, textured draping, cutouts, thread detailing and embellishments. These were the showstoppers and indeed each one could have been applauded for costume design in a feature film. Colors were just as dreamy in shades of seafoam, ivory and emerald kelly green.

Further credits include Aveda, Faryl Robin (shoes), Patricia Yankee (nails), Sachi Rose (floral designs) and Chloe Wine Collection (you guessed it, the bubbly good stuff).

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