Fashion Designer, Project Runway winner
The winner of Project Runway Season 11, fashion designer Michelle Lesniak (a Portland native) hasn’t followed the traditional path down fashion lane. Born into a family of quilters, seamstresses, and interior decorators, needle and thread were predestined to find their way into her hands. From a young age, Michelle took her minimal clothing allowance and hit thrift and vintage stores, where she purchased wacky pieces that she altered to fit her taste. By remaking previously worn garments, she learned construction, destruction, and how to tailor garments.
Michelle continued to fill her closet with her own creations while attending the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she studied the art of printmaking. Lithography, silk-screening, etching, and woodblock printing eventually found their way onto fabric and the Michelle Lesniak textile was born. Using these textiles, she constructed artist gowns and sculptures.
Fast-forward 10 years. (Those 10 years were focused in the wine industry – making, teaching, and tasting – until she hit 30 and realized she yearned to go back to her fashion roots).
Determined to jumpstart her career in fashion, Michelle tried out for Project Runway, landing a spot on Season 11. Her lack of formal training gave her an edge; there were no rules to follow. As a self-proclaimed, professional rule breaker, Michelle won the season and the ability to design full-time, a luxury many designers never achieve.
This rule-breaker, no-shit-taker continues to live in Portland, Oregon focusing on small production and emotive clothing, as she likes to say, “Fashion with a purpose”. Fun Facts: Favorite color – dirty chartreuse. Chihuahua lover. Project Runway All-Stars alum. Former trombonist. 5’5” in flats – wicked tall in heel.