Portlander competes on latest 'Project Runway'

Credit: KGW

Portlander competes on latest 'Project Runway'

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by Collette Wieland, KGW Reporter

kgw.com

Posted on February 21, 2013 at 5:00 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 22 at 11:04 AM

PORTLAND -- Michelle Lesniak Franklin admits she’s horrible at keeping secrets.

The season 11 Project Runway contestant is a Portlander, born and raised in the Rose City.

So the last few weeks have been very hard for the designer to hold back how she fares on the reality TV show.

“It's tough keeping my mouth shut. I’m not good at keeping secrets. Really I’m terrible at it -- toughest secret of my life, definitely,” Franklin said.

The 34-year old Franklin is a 1996 Rose Festival Princess runner-up from Cleveland High School and even back then, she was designing her own clothes.

“I’ve always made my own clothes,” she said. “In high school, I was taking vintage and re-working it.”

Even though she’s been sewing for decades, that wasn’t the career path she started on.

“I was an assistant winemaker and actually doing the science behind it.” But Franklin didn’t enjoy working in a lab. “One morning I woke up, and turned to my husband, and was like, 'I hate what I’m doing.”

She said the wine industry was not the creative outlet she went to school for. Her husband, who is one of her biggest cheerleaders in life, said “Quit.”

That was all it took for Franklin, and she quit her job and created her own clothing line.

She specializes in rain jackets and is hoping her Northwest inspiration is enough to keep her in the reality show competition.

If Franklin is named the winner, she doesn’t plan on leaving Portland.

“You can do everything here in Portland that you could do in another city and examples of that are Columbia and Nike. They don't really have to leave this town to get things done."

You can catch Franklin in action on Project Runway, Thursdays at 9 p.m. on Lifetime.

She also hosts a live viewing party every Thursday at the Back Stage Bar in Southeast Portland.

Video: Michelle's crush confession to Reggie Aqui

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