FIDM Graduate and Project Runway Season 5 winner Leanne Marshall has seen her business explode in recent years. The in-demand designer's line is now in over 40 global locations and she just launched two collections. We caught up with the Advanced Fashion Design Graduate to learn more.
Tell us what you've been up to lately. Life is an incredible whirlwind for me right now. I just launched two collections: my New York Fashion Week collection, 42 looks which were inspired by the tragic life of Adele H., the daughter of author Victor Hugo, and my new bridal collection. I've also had some pretty remarkable women wearing my designs recently, including Carrie Underwood, Julianne Hough, Andie MacDowell, and Mena Suvari. It is so exciting to see this but I am actually so busy that I only have time for a short pause to enjoy it.
What continues to excite and invigorate you about design, particularly bridal? The only limits to design are the limits of the imagination. I find that invigorating. Nothing is more exciting than some new bolts of fabric, a clean, sun-lit room, my dress form and some peaceful quiet. I am always inspired by fabrics and the architecture that can be created, but my main goal, with weddings and design in general, is to make women look and feel incredible.
What are some of your fond memories of studying at FIDM? I was awarded a Levi's Dockers scholarship and was able to attend my first year free. That was such a huge help. There was a lot of homework! So much homework that I don't really remember anything else.
How do you feel that the college helped prepare you for working as a designer? I learned a variety of skills, particularly pattern making and draping, which have allowed me to be a very self-reliant designer. I do every step of my design process now; I sketch, I sew, I drape, I create all the patterns and technical packages. FIDM taught me the basics and I was able to take those skills to the next level myself.
What are your future goals for your company? Right now, bridal is the primary focus, but I am making the turn toward ready to wear. With the attention my collections are getting from celebrities and editorial, I think a full launch will be in the near future.