LeBlanc’s elimination comes on the heels of a victory last week, when he won a swimsuit/resortwear competition with a flowing bright blue dress and a black one-piece swimsuit with lots of strategic cutouts.
But this week was a little different. The show started with the seven designers at an aquarium on Long Island, each choosing some form of sea life as inspiration for an avant garde challenge.
LeBlanc chose yellow scroll coral (choices from other designers included shark, lionfish, anemone and a seahorse). In the workroom, he appeared under stress and said he was concerned about his fabric choice — so much that two competitors came over to offer words of support and even extra fabric.
In the end, the designer inspired by a seahorse won, and Justin’s garment — a skirt and top with ruffles on the front and a sort of peplum-plus-shoulder-pad look — got the lowest score from the panel of judges.
LeBlanc is a perennial favorite among the other designers, and backstage, most were in tears after he was told he had to go home. He teared up a bit too, but had some nice words to end his time on the show.
“I wanted to be a source of inspiration for other people who think they are at a disadvantage, and I just wanted to give them hope,” he said. “I hope I did.”
LeBlanc was born deaf and has had a cochlear implant since he was 18, and was accompanied by a sign language interpreter on the show.
Meanwhile, LeBlanc has been busy since the show was taped last summer. He’s teaching at the College of Design, and spent a weekend at the consumer electronics show in Las Vegas, Nev., as guest of a company that makes 3-D printers. (He often sports a 3-D printed bow tie.) In November, he was a featured designer helping to open a new art venue in Denver, Colo. And we can expect to see more soon.
To find out more about LeBlanc’s inspirational story and life outside Project Runway, check out the next issue of NC State magazine next month. The magazine is a benefit of membership in the Alumni Association.