Leanne Marshall, the soft-spoken gal from Portland, Ore., with a thing for pleats.
Leanne's win was somewhat expected. Fashion Week was more than a month ago, and while word hadn't leaked of this year's "Runway" winner, there were plenty of reports from the final six contestants' collections (the final six actually show at Fashion Week, to throw off spoilers) -- lots of oohing and ahhing over Marshall's stuff.
Which, I gotta say, I don't really get. Coming into the finale, I was sure Leanne would win, and I was even cheering for her. But once I saw the runway parades, Korto Momolu's collection seemed infinitely more interesting, marketable and, frankly, mature. Leanne's thing with the folded-over fabric waves ... after look No. 3 or 4 just screamed "gimmick!" Judge Nina Garcia voiced a valid concern about what else she can do, how she could develop that one-note trick in the future, but then emphatically voted her in.
I'm curious: any women out there, would you buy those pleaty things of Leanne's? Seems like they'd fill with crumbs or something ...
Kenley, glory be, went swiftly into that good night, and if there is a God we will never hear her lazy, whiny voice ever again. Worst attitude ever. Worse than Santino.
The finale wound up with a last-minute guest judge -- after the scheduled guest, Jennifer Lopez, was absent due to an injured foot. (I don't recall any news about that, does anyone?) So they drafted the designers' mentor, Tim Gunn, to fill in. I wouldn't be surprised if this comes back to haunt them in some way. It seemed terribly unfair and possibly a major conflict of interest, given his access and advice to the contestants throughout the last several weeks. I mean, the room is full of people who could make excellent judges on the spot -- name designers as well as dozens of previous winners and contestants (they should've collared lil' Christian) -- so I can't fathom why they made this dicey choice.
''I'm thrilled that Leanne won,'' Gunn later told USA Today. ''All of the strong architectural elements that are Leanne were clearly present, but her looks possessed a buoyancy and an ease, an effortlessness that belied each item's structure.''
Leanne's predecessor agreed. ''Thank God, because I can't even handle it if it was someone else. I'd be so over it,'' said Season 4 winner Christian Siriano.
Season 5 was ''Project Runway'''s highest-rated yet, but the show has hit a snag. Bravo's parent company, NBC Universal, has sued ''Runway'''s producer, The Weinstein Co., to block the series' move to Lifetime. (Season 6 is shooting now in Los Angeles.) A judge granted a temporary injunction and the suit is unresolved, which means the scheduled January premiere is uncertain.
Contributing: Gannett News Service