When Justin LeBlanc appeared on Project Runway Season 12, he became the first deaf designer to ever appear on the show! On Project Runway, designers compete to make the best outfit, sometime from crazy material and with very little time. LeBlanc wowed the judges with his creative designs, including one dress where he used a glue gun to create lace!
Justin LeBlanc has been deaf since birth, and went to school using an interpreter. After he graduated with a degree in Architecture (designing buildings), he went to the School of Art in Chicago to study fashion design. His architecture background was clear in the simple, streamlined style of his clothes, and he did very well in the fashion challenges.
LeBlanc knew he was a designer when he was young, but didn’t realize how much he loved fashion design until college. He says: “Being deaf has made me a more visual person. This naturally drew me to finely crafted designs.” He loves working with felts and wools, and pays attention to every little detail to get it just right. He also sees his deafness as the chance to “make it work” and likes working with textures
LeBlanc got a cochlear implant when he was eighteen and had an ASL interpreter on the set of Project Runway. One of LaBlanc’s favorite memories of being on Project Runway was the time when all the designers went camping. That was the first time he got to really visit with the other designers, and he enjoyed the chance to get to be friends with everyone.
Now, LeBlanc is an Assistant Professor at North Carolina State University, where he teaches fashion design. He also helps organize the school’s fashion show, meeting with fundraisers and planning events. And, to top it off, he’s busy getting his new winter fashion line ready!
You can visit Justin at his Facebook page for videos and photos of his fashion classes and clothes.