Marion Lee, Project Runway
On last week's episode of Project Runway
(Wednesdays at 10 pm/ET on Bravo), Marion Lee was booted back to the Lone Star State. The Parsons School of Design alumnus and Dallas-based boutique owner shared with TVGuide.com his theories on entertaining the fashionista masses, working with Sarah Jessica Parker and who he thinks will win.
TVGuide.com: I was talking with Simone last week and she mentioned how she really loved your artistic vision, so I was really disappointed that I didn't get to see much more of that.
Marion Lee: I was sad, too, that I didn't get to show everyone my vision and creative depth.
TVGuide.com: What do you think happened in the challenge that put you in the bottom two?
Marion: Christian and I are very conceptual, sort of avant-garde designers, and we were both thrown into this really minimal challenge of just designing a $15 basic outfit. I think that threw both of us for a loop because we [like] a lot of layering and detail. Unfortunately I was the one that went home.
TVGuide.com: So it was a design issue, not the garment's fabric or something else?
Marion: When I met with Sarah Jessica [Parker], what she liked about my design and my philosophy was my color sense as well as my sophistication level. And she wanted me to make her Bitten line — a really low-price-point line — sophisticated. I think that threw me off at the very beginning — that she wanted to do upscale and sophisticated but for $15.
TVGuide.com: Do you regret the design decisions you made?
Marion: I do. Looking back I would have made a much safer, wearable, basic dress, and I think I would still be on the show.
TVGuide.com: So what was it like working with Sarah Jessica Parker? She seemed to ask quite a few questions of the different designers, as though she really knows her stuff.
Marion: I think she does. She has a great fashion sense. I don't know anything about her really, I've never watched Sex and the City, and I'm not one to be starstruck. But she was so warm from the beginning — it was very easy to be around her. She knew her line and she's in tune with what's going on as far as fashion is concerned.
TVGuide.com: What did you think of Christian's design? Do you think that he should have gone home instead?
Marion: I think Christian is great for the show. If he would have had my personality or I would have had his and there were two identical personalities up on the stage, it would have been a much harder decision.
TVGuide.com: So you think they chose to keep him for his more dramatic sensibilities?
Marion: Oh yeah, definitely. I mean he is sort of a TV clown and that's what the show was about. All of our portfolios were exposed to the people who were ultimately going to make the decision, and I truly think that I was chosen to be on the show because of my accomplishments and deep thinking and ways of approaching things. I just don't take a fabric and create a cute little dress — that's not who I am. When I design a collection, I put a lot of research into it and reference different things, whether it be antiques or a period in time or something in the future. But unfortunately, people didn't get see that.
TVGuide.com: You're already a well-established designer, with your own store and collections. So why do the show?
Marion: I've always been a risk-taker, whether it be opening my own business or showing noncommercial collections during New York Fashion Week. It's just another experiment in my life. I don't like to lead a safe or boring life. I like to take challenges and do fun things. I would have liked to have won. I think I could have done a lot with it, because I do have a business mind — I do own a business and it's doing very well. Unfortunately, I was beat out by some clowns! [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: Are you glad that you did it?
Marion: Oh yeah, I really am glad I did it. It was a great experience. But it's really jolting to be kicked off, and you can't forget about it. You're anticipating making it to the end, so it's kind of a kick in the face when you don't.
TVGuide.com: Is that why so many people this season have already shed some tears? I was wondering if it's the lack of sleep or stress or whether the judges are really harsh this year. What do you think?
Marion: Um... [Lengthy pause] I have my thoughts and ideas, but I don't think I can share them with you — the conversation might be cut short [Laughs] But... I think each year it does get tougher.
TVGuide.com: Who do you think is going to go far this season?
Marion: I think Rami will definitely win.
TVGuide.com: Wow, that's a very confident answer.
Marion: Yeah, you know people that watch the show are big red-carpet freaks, I think, and he does the red-carpet thing very well also.
TVGuide.com: You grew up in Texas, went to Parsons in New York and are now in Dallas. What brought you back to Texas?
Marion: I did well in school but when I graduated it was really hard to find a design job at that time. If you got a job, it was following a designer down 7th Avenue carrying their coffee, and I didn't want to do that. So I applied everywhere and started working for a designer in Dallas.
TVGuide.com: Tell me about your business.
Marion: My store has everything. I have home accessories, florals, my [clothing] line, I have jewelry, candles. It's like a big curio cabinet. I have no complaints — my business is doing really well, and I have great friends here.
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