• Amanda Perna from Project Runway Season 11
  • Ben Mach from Project Runway Season 11
  • cindy marlatt from project runway season 11
  • Daniel Esquivel from Project Runway Season 11
  • emily pollard from project runway season 11
  • james martinez from project runway season 11
  • joseph aaron segal from project runway season 11
  • Kate Pankoke from Project Runway Season 11
  • Layana Aguilar from Project Runway Season 11
  • Matthew Arthur from Project Runway Season 11
  • Michelle Lesniak Franklin from Project Runway Season 11
  • Patricia Michaels from Project Runway Season 11
  • Richard Hallmarq from Project Runway Season 11
  • Samantha Black from Project Runway Season 11
  • Stanley Hudson from Project Runway Season 11
  • Tu Suthiwat Nakcht from Project Runway Season 11

Michelle Lesniak Franklin

34, Portland, OR

Describe your family.

Gregarious, funny, quick-witted and punny! If there is a pun to be had, this family will find it!

Current occupation?

When not designing and constructing clothes, I work part-time at a local design boutique, Garnish Apparel.

Past jobs?

I worked in the Oregon wine industry for 10 years doing various jobs: tasting room manager, assistant winemaker, enologist, wine educator, grape taster.


LaFonda, a drunken party cat; Velcro, a 10-year-old, bossy-Bessie Chihuahua; Ivan, a crumb-catching, ankle-biting, treadmill-running rescue Chihuahua.


m, Misha, chelle-belle, boo, b****-hunter

When did you realize you had designer potential?

In high school I began to take apart and reconstruct vintage clothing to best fit my needs and quirkiness.

First garment you ever made?

One of my first designs was my prom dress. It was metallic brocade with a lace overlay. At the time my sewing skills were limited to alterations, so my skillful mom helped me out with the stitching.

What's your design training/schooling, etc.?

I studied printmaking/fine art in college and took classes at my local community college in pattern making and draping.

Have you won any awards for your designs/work related to design?

Not yet, but I'm working on it.

Strengths as a designer?

My strengths are that I am unwavered by trends, I follow my own design aesthetics, I am not afraid of color and texture, and I design for all women.

Weaknesses as a designer?

Frilly. I don't do frilly. I also have a hard time with patterns, which is odd, since I have a background in printmaking and love repetition of images.

What are your influences?

Influences in the past have always been the past. I look a lot at vintage clothing, as well as old movies just as much now as I did in my teens, when I started designing. I also take a lot of inspiration from nature, especially when it comes to my color palette. When I am feeling really stuck and need a design jolt, art museums and galleries are a great way for me to get my blood moving and the thread sewing.

What's playing on your iPod when you.re designing?

The Civil Wars, J-Live, The National, Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Mozart, Bjork, Fischerspooner, The Beatles.

Favorite material or fabric to work with?

Wool, especially Melton. I love the smell of wool. I love the texture of wool. I LOVE WOOL! And then there is silk - oh, beautiful silk. Wait! Wait! Leather, OH MY!

Item you're most proud of designing?

I love my outerwear. I make a mean raincoat; being from the Pacific Northwest, I better design a mean raincoat!

Favorite designer(s)?

Bottega Veneta, Marc Jacobs, McQueen, Derek Lam .

Sketch or drape?


Patterns or solids?


Favorite colors?

Chartreuse. Gray. Black. Gray. Chartreuse. Repeat.

Biggest fear as a designer?


Fashion must?

Tailored outerwear. Handkerchief. Baseball-T. Bitchin. boots.

Fashion faux pas that drives you crazy?

Writing on the butt of pants. Yoga pants as daywear. Visible thongs. Flip-flops. Flip-flops with a heel. Pants that are too tight, revealing smuggled hamsters. Tracksuits.

Ugliest item of clothing/accessory you've worn?

I will never regret what I wear. My clothing makes a statement of my mood and vigor at that moment in time, which I will never regret.

Favorite style icon?

Auntie Mame.

What would you design for the first lady?

A tracksuit with yoga pants with the word "LADY" on the butt and a killer pair of stiletto flip-flops. KIDDING! A structured sheath and leather cape; don't mess with the first lady.

Celebrity you wish you could design for?

Tilda Swinton. She pushes the envelope. She goes there. She is not afraid! I would make a daring coatdress embroidered with the hair of a magical unicorn, and if I cannot find the unicorn hair, metal.

Favorite supermodel muse?

Ranya Mordanova. I love her haunted, Russian-fairy-tale look!

If you had to name your label, you'd call it...

Au Clothing. I've got it right now.

If you weren't designing, you'd be...

In the nut house. Or a glue factory. Or a factory that lacquers nuts.

Places/cultures you wish you could design for?

I love Russia. I love the Ukraine. I have never been to Alaska, but I would love to spend some time there getting inspired.

Dream place to set up your business?

In the middle of nowhere Wyoming in a glass studio with just rock and wind and antelope as my backdrop. OR, Portland, Oregon.

Websites that feature your work?

www.au-clothing.com, www.garnishapparel.com

How were you described as a kid?

Outgoing. Creative. Goofy.

How are you described by your family and friends?

Outgoing. Creative. Goofy.

Why do you think you're easy to live with?

I'm a good snuggler. I like a good laugh. I make a mean soup. BUT, sometimes I want to snuggle you with soup and laugh about it, which makes it hard to live with me.

Favorite hangout?

A stormy cottage on the coast, my living room, my backyard in the summer time.


Following the Iditarod!

Favorite movies and TV shows?

Movies: "Auntie Mame," "Lili," "An American in Paris," "In Bruges," "Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels," "Cool Runnings," "White Squall." TV: "The Golden Girls," "Art of the Heist," "Mad Men."

Favorite books/authors?

"Anna Karenina," Tolstoy, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being," Milan Kundera, "Perfume," Patrick Suskind.

Your Twitter handle?



Tin can and a piece of twine.

Fast food or gourmet?

Gourmet, and then on your way home stop at the fast-food joint because you are still hungry. So, both.

Cooking or takeout?

Cooking. There is love in cooking and sharing what you cooked.

Favorite foods?

Borscht. Chicken liver mousse. Pickles. Jelly beans. Salmon. Udon. Hot sauce.

Beer or wine?

BOTH!!! And of course, anything with bubbles! Champagne, sparkling wine, prosecco, cava.

Guiltiest pleasure?

See answer above.

Biggest pet peeve?


How did you end up auditioning for PR?

My husband talked me into it. I got so far the previous time I auditioned and was downtrodden when I didn't make it that I said I wouldn't do it again. Whelp, I was wrong!

Favorite past PR designer?

Seth Aaron. (Shout-out to my fellow Portlanders!)

Challenge you wish they'd bring back?

Deconstructing/reconstructing clothing.

Challenge you hope they don't?

Grocery store!

Your take on team challenges:

The problem with team challenges is PERSONALITIES! You never know whose ego you have to contend with.

What do you look for in a model?

Confidence. Conviction. Just because they are beautiful, doesn't mean they are powerful! I like a model that possesses power.

Do you think you can win "Project Runway"?

Yes. And I will.