The fashion challenge required the designers to get their inspiration from a camping trip (yes, they roasted marshmallows). LeBlanc, an assistant professor at the College of Design, was inspired by the froth of the river against rock. He decided to make lace with a glue gun, a technique that got a lot of compliments during the workroom session.
But it was ultimately a risk that didn’t sit well with the three judges.
“I’m not a huge fan,” said Heidi Klum before another judge leveled a critique that we won’t use here. (Like a lot of fans who commented on Project Runway’s Facebook site, we would have knocked off the designer who created a tent-like yellow ombré dress held up by a leather belt.)
LeBlanc was voted off the show. The reaction among the other contestants when they learned LeBlanc had been eliminated was unambiguous: Some sobbed openly and it was obvious that despite the competitive nature of the show, they loved him.
“I just want to thank all of you, and you will forever be my inspiration,” LeBlanc told them after he was dismissed from the runway. “I am so not ready to go home, because I had so much more to show.” He teared up and everyone else in the room was passing the Kleenex.
That’s when Tim Gunn, who serves as the mentor for the designers, stepped in and used his one “save” — the only one he is allowed all season — to override the judges’ decision. He called LeBlanc “one of the sweetest people to ever be on Project Runway,” but made it clear he was saving him because of his talent and not his personality.
At the end of the broadcast of the episode, LeBlanc tweeted a photo of himself signing, “I love you,” and said thank you to Gunn, the other designers and fans for their support.
We’ll be able to see LeBlanc compete again — one of 11 out of the original 16 — on next Thursday’s show. But if you can’t wait that long, you can see him Saturday at Packapalooza, the university’s big blowout on Hillsborough Street. LeBlanc will be at the College of Design’s Art2Wear tent from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Meanwhile, he’s been spotted around campus this week. (Classes have started, after all, and someone has to teach those up-and-coming fashion designers.)
— Sylvia Adcock ’81