Project Justin: Designer dispenses of diamond challenge

July 26, 2013
By Chris Saunders

Heidi Klum abandoned her concerns with material or fabric on Thursday’s episode of Project Runway and instead turned to the all important accessory as the basis for the show’s second design challenge. And it was not just any accessory, but one that’s perhaps the most coveted of any.

Justin LeBlanc designs a black gown to compliment his model's diamonds (Photo courtesy of Barbara Nitke, Project Runway).

Justin LeBlanc designs a black gown to compliment his model’s diamonds (Photo courtesy of Barbara Nitke, Project Runway).

“They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” Klum said, explaining the challenge in which the 15 remaining contestants had to design an evening-wear dress to highlight diamonds on a model. “Let’s see if they are designers’, too.”

It turns out Justin LeBlanc, an NC State alum who teaches at the College of Design, had no problem getting chummy with diamonds. For the second straight week, he survived the competition on the Lifetime reality show that tests designers skills in a set of challenges.

Each contestant had 45 minutes to shop for material then retreated to the design studio to get to work. It was there that Tim Gunn, a fashion consultant on the show who serves as the designers’ surrogate mentor, advised LeBlanc to scale back his design of a black evening gown.

But the Wolfpacker stood his ground. “I’m aiming to go big,” LeBlanc said. “I’m going with my gut.”

It was a gamble that paid off as LeBlanc made it through to next week’s competition — a feat in and of itself given the squabbling by fellow contestant Sandro Masmanidi that clearly disturbed LeBlanc as he tried to sew his dress.

LeBlanc said he heard another designer’s exclamation at his dress as his model came down the runway, a sure sign that what he had done was “a showstopper.”

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