Portland fashion designer wins ‘Project Runway All Stars’

Local designer Michelle Lesniak, winner of ‘Project Runway’ season eleven, becomes season seven ‘All Stars’ world champion.


A photo promoting the spin-off hit “Project Runway All Stars”.

Making her mark in the fashion world, Portland native Michelle Lesniak took home the prestige ‘World Champion’ on season seven finale of “Project Runway All Stars”.

The extension of the popular show gathered a total of fourteen international designers from previous seasons. The ultimate designer is then evaluated by New York’s fashion elite Isaac Mizrahi and Georgina Chapman. Lesniak won season eleven of “Project Runway” and was selected to compete once again to be crowned ‘World Champion’ for their catwalk-ready looks. In an intense and uncertain finale, the Portlander won the title.

Lesniak had competed in “Project Runway All Stars” Season four and was eliminated before the finals. Her shot at a return to the top lied within the final challenge of season seven. They were all given four days and a three thousand dollar budget for their finale collections. They were allowed to choose their theme, so the contestants went in contrasting directions. Lesniak took the challenge and invented a nostalgic seventies collection.

Lesniak’s love for fashioning her own, unique apparel was based in her household according to her site biography. She was shaped by a family of quilters, seamstresses, and interior decorators. All of which passed down their skills to her at a young age. Lesniak was not always fascinated by the luxury traditional brands. In her youth, she browsed the many thrift stores of Portland, to then alter the outfits into something new. Her work exudes a free-spirited vibe and tests different concepts without the constraint of formal training.

Her upbringing in Portland and affinity for thrifting undertones her winning designs. Stealing the show, they were drawn from those influences with a bohemian feel. Lesniak named the collection ‘Harvest Mood’ after Neil Young’s 1972 folk album ‘Harvest Moon’. The reminiscent looks thoroughly impressed the judges and audience.

However, the win was controversial, while many fans felt that Belarusian Dmitri Sholokov was robbed of that deserved title. Tenth season runway winner and fourth season world champion winner, Sholokov experienced his first loss on the spin-off. Sholokov’s finale collection was not necessarily a clear theme. However, it was a display of his innovation and mastery of classic garment that had the audience on the edge of their seats. When results came through, some fans responded in disappointment.

Online polls were taken after the finale, and the percentages pointed towards Sholokov’s deserving victory. Goldderby.com asked in a poll, “Project Runway All Stars” Finale: Who really had the best collection? The poll outcome was 42% for Sholokov and 36% for Lesniak. Though many are questioning the accuracy of the results, both contestants brought worthy designs to the competition.

Lesniak’s boutique website shows her collections, as well as available items to shop. She also showcases photos of her earliest to most recent collections. There is also a list of her collaborations with many other similar Portland designers.

A sample of Lesniak’s Project Runway collection: