Portland proves itself once again this week with Michelle Lesniak Franklin deservedly taking the Project Runway crown. Two years ago I met Lesniak as a judge on the (then PFW) Emerging Designer competition. I remember being impressed with both her bubbly attitude and her creative aesthetic. The one thing I questioned was her ability to bring cohesion to a collection.

Her stunning, tailored, innovative fashion week collection blew any questions I had out of the water. From the color palette to the variety, I was captivated as each piece walked the runway. There was no doubt whatsoever that she deserved to win and we’re lucky to have her as part of our ever growing fashion community. I had a minute to ask her some questions on the experience and what’s up next.

Eden Dawn: Did you believe that you would win?

Michelle Lesniak Franklin: Yes. Why go on Project Runway not thinking I would win? That would be silly! 

E.D:  What was your favorite challenge from the show?

M.L.F: The final collection. It was the hardest and most rewarding moment in my life. Win or lose, before the judging, watching my 12 looks go down the runway was the most prideful moment of my life, and utterly rewarding.

E.D:  Would you change anything about how you were portrayed?

M.L.F: No. Some viewers thought I was mean, but I'm not. I'm strong willed, determined and have a power of conviction. It's a shame these three traits mean bitch when they are associated with a woman. 

E.D:  How do you feel about your NYFW collection now that you've had some time?

M.L.F: I love it. I wouldn't change a thing. I would wear all the pieces now, and wear them forever.

E.D:   Who have been the designers in Portland you've admired?

M.L.F: Ms. Wood. Make it Good. Bryce Black.

E.D:  What do you want to tell the television viewers about yourself?

M.L.F: I'm a really fun approachable gal who likes a good laugh, a good glass of wine and a good cookie!

E.D:  What's up next for you?

M.L.F: Finding employees!!! One woman show no longer!! Huzzah!

(Michelle will also show new collections in August’s Fade to Light fashion show and at FashioNXT in October)

For more fashion and style news and inspiration, sign up for our weekly Shop Talk newsletter, subscribe to our RSS feed, and visit our Fashion & Shopping page.