Project Justin: A sign of friendship on last night’s Project Runway

October 31, 2014
By Sylvia Adcock

NC State’s Justin LeBlanc took to the airwaves Thursday night for the premiere of this season’s Project Runway All Stars competing with 13 other Project Runway veterans.

“I need to win the competition to show the world what I’m capable of,” LeBlanc said as the contestants were being introduced.

pras4-ep1-episode20-croppedSo far, so good — he survived the first challenge. In last night’s episode, the designers were split into teams of men and women, with women designing a collection based on uptown New York with the men focusing on downtown. Downtown ruled, and LeBlanc’s design — a shorts-with-crop-top outfit — was not eliminated.

We didn’t see much of LeBlanc in the first episode, but hope to see more next Thursday. But as the designers were being introduced, LeBlanc’s sign-language interpreter, Samantha Cotter of Chicago, got an introduction of her own.

Cotter was largely out of sight for the first half of Project Runway, but she’s an important part of the show for LeBlanc, who is deaf but uses a cochlear implant. Cotter first started working with LeBlanc when he was getting his master’s degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and she was asked to interpret for him at a fashion design class.

“I thought, ‘I love fashion, this should be fun,’’’ she said in an interview. “Right away, I liked being there….[LeBlanc] was very easygoing. Very watchful. He was quiet — but there was all this creativity coming out in his garments and concepts.”

Last night, LeBlanc was watching the premiere, which was taped over the summer, at a theater in Chicago, but he plans to be back in Raleigh for next week’s show. Project Runway All Stars airs on Thursdays at 9 p.m. EST on Lifetime.

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