Meet Sustainable Designer Leanne Marshall

Sustainable designer Leanne Marshall has a serious talent for making dresses women want to wear

By Chere Di Boscio

If we look at a few facts, we can see there’s absolutely no doubt now that sustainability is creeping into the mainstream.  First, clothing giant H&M started carrying organic cotton ranges. Then, the Kering Group – home to the likes of Gucci, Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen – announced a huge sustainability plan that covers everything from energy use and water conservation to ethical factories and biodegradable materials.

Not long after, reality TV went green, with America’s Next Top Model hosting a very eco-friendly 16th cycle, where the models were ferried to and from activities in a green van and wore eco-friendly outfits to shoot in carbon neutral studios. This green lead was then followed by Project Runway, which has included ‘Zero WasteDaniel Silverstein and Michelle Lesniak  and Leanne Marshall amongst its finalists and winners, all of whom continued their eco-friendly methods in their own ranges long after their TV triumphs.

But I must confess: of all these fabulous designers, I may well love Marshall the best.

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Who Is Sustainable Designer Leanne Marshall?

A native of California, Marshall launched her career as a fashion designer in 2006/2007 at Portland Fashion Week. Her feminine, floaty frocks earned her a faithful clientele, and by 2007, she had amassed such a following, she was able to dedicate herself to fashion design full time.

It wasn’t until 2008 that she was picked to be a contestant for Season 5 of the hit TV show Project Runway, hosted by supermodel Heidi Klum. It was her wave-inspired collection in beachy shades of turquoise, ivory and sand that finally secured her the grand prize, and after being crowned the winner of the show, she created her first eco-friendly collection for in July 2009.

Heidi Klum was apparently so impressed with Marshall’s designs, she asked her to create a maternity dress for her. But Marshall’s specialty had always been bridal dresses, so it wasn’t a surprise to many when she decided to launch a signature wedding gown line in 2011.

After years of designing custom bridal gowns, Leanne officially launched her signature bridal line in 2011. The bridal collection is carried in over 18 boutiques internationally and online, and in 2014, she released an exclusive selection of dresses with BHLDN.

Today, she works from her studio in New York City, and her collections have shown at New York Fashion Week and fashion weeks around the globe every year since 2008.

Leanne has also designed clothing for television, including outfits for Heidi Klum, Paula Abdul and the X Factor, and her spectacular silk dresses and gowns have graced the pages of top magazines, such as Martha Stewart Weddings, US Weekly, The Post,and countless others.  

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Why I Love Her Work

Leanne’s seems to understand what women want in a dress. We want to feel pretty; we want unfussy frocks that feel like a beautiful extension of our bodies; we want fabrics that twirl and float behind us like a breath. And that’s exactly what she delivers.

Her style is defined partially by her expert draping: as you can see in the images shown here, she has a knack for breathing life into a dress: every movement makes the garment truly come alive.

Of course, her work is also defined by its sustainability. She chooses planet-friendly materials like silk and organic cotton to make most of her pieces, and she also employs zero-waste techniques to craft her gowns.

She offers ready-to-wear as well as bespoke dresses, and is proud to craft non-traditional bridal wear as well as more classic gowns.

Despite her success, the designer remains down-to-earth and claims  she loves designing for ‘the average woman’ most of all. That may be true, but if you ask me, anyone  who’s lucky enough to wear one of her fantastic frocks could never be described as looking ‘average!’

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Chere Di Boscio
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