Designer Spotlight: Project Runway’s Michelle Lesniak Franklin    

On the latest episode of Project Runway,”He Said, She Said,” the designers create one of a kind youthful spring looks for a chance to get their designs in Lord & Taylor stores.


By Naima Abdi—

Of all the designers this season, Michelle is the one that has improved the most throughout the competition. In the beginning, quite a few of her looks were clean, simple, and while they were good enough to keep her in the race, those designs weren’t at all awe-inspiring.

But the duck tape challenge was a crucial turnaround point for Michelle that showed us she has a very unique, fun and sharp design aesthetic that’s actually bright and not as grungy as we thought. This week she stepped her game up and nailed every aspect of the challenge. Her very chic, yet bold springtime dress was impeccable from all angles and was hands down the best wearable garment from this season so far.


The eye-catching neon-green chartreuse color along with the modern silhouette were the features that stood out the most about Michelle’s dress. Details like the the tan-grey leather trim that didn’t even look like leather and the open V shape in the back really amped up the youthful element in this look and brought all of the other parts together seamlessly.

Despite the ridiculous squabble she had with her teammate Daniel on this challenge, she powered through and somewhat ignored the stress-induced but still totally unfounded scene he made in the work room. The big production was over Daniel’s direction which Michelle said was missing youthfulness but Daniel interpreted the advice as her telling him his outfit needed to be for a 21-year-old.

Even though his feelings were hurt, Daniel decided to change his concept to a vast improvement from the dated jacket he started with. But ultimately the final product was unpolished, and honestly just average. The only defining highlights of his dress were the vibrant pink color and the shoulder work, and If Daniel wasn’t partnered with Michelle, he could have easily been in the bottom or just safe but the team won this week because of Michelle. Now her lovely dress will be on sale at Lord & Taylor as a part of their spring collection.

Stanley and Patricia turned out two great looks and actually worked well together as a team once they got past the power struggle. The red they both used in their dresses was so sharp and the draping in Patricia’s top was very impressive and sophisticated. Unfortunately for Layana, Samantha and Richard, their dresses were the worst this week. The judges felt Samantha’s was too young and not chic enough, though personally I disagree. Her dress was really fun and while not a concept for the typical Lord & Taylor girl, it was something completely different and original. Layana had an amazing silhouette that she ruined by selecting an awful fabric, and Richard played it incredibly safe this challenge with a simple and somewhat generic dress with a technique he’s used on the runway before.

Surprisingly, the judges said goodbye to Samantha and not Richard. Seemed like a sure bet he’d be the one going home after being in the bottom twice in a row, but the panel obviously sees something in Richard that perhaps we as viewers haven’t yet.

Maybe his full on bravado will come to surface in the next episode, because something tells me if it doesn’t the judges won’t give him another chance to let it show.

Here are some of the other looks from this week: