After the first two episodes of Season 5, we had little indication as to who had the best design chops, let alone who was who. Emily, Jennifer and Leanne were indistinguishable from one another. But that would all change in "Bright Lights, Big City" when the designers had their first chance to shine with complete creative freedom and traditional materials.
Leanne Marshall was dropped off at Columbus Circle with a digital camera and the charge to find an image to use as the inspiration for her design. Similar to our Season 2 Top 5 champion Andrae Gonzalo, she chose to look down. Finding a beautiful tree grate, Leanne was able to create a look that defined the taste and sensibility that we would see time and time again from her as the competition moved forward.
Leanne used horizontal pleats in her skirt that mimicked the design of the tree grate and paired it with a simple, sleeveless blouse. Her pleating technique would become a signature design element that set her apart from the pack. When the lovely Karalyn walked this down the runway, we swooned. It was arguably the first "wow" outfit of the competition. And in yet another questionable judging decision, this design did not garner Leanne a win. It lives on though as a Top 5 Look from Season 5. Congratulations Leanne!