Marion Lee, <EM>Project Runway</EM> 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 his theories on entertaining the fashionista masses, working with Sarah Jessica Parker and who he thinks will win. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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] Are you glad that you did it?
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. 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. Who do you think is going to go far this season?
Marion: I think Rami will definitely win. 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. 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. 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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