Leanne Marshall married her two greatest professional loves – fashion and figure skating – this season when she presented her Fall 2024 runway collection on the ice rink in Manhattan’s iconic Bryant Park. Marshall has fallen head over heels (both figuratively and literally in this case!) with the sport and has come to look forward to her early morning skating sessions before she makes her way into her nearby studio each day.
Bryant Park holds a fond place in Marshall’s fashion memory bank. “I often think about my first time there, 15 years ago when I showed my winning Project Runway collection in Bryant Park during fashion week. NYFW was something else quite spectacular when it was held in Bryant Park, and I am so happy and honored to have experienced that. My NYC fashion career was kind of born there some 15 years ago, and I get that same surreal magical feeling whenever I skate there now,” says Marshall.
Leanne Marshall has been known to take one of her flowy dresses she’s working on in her studio for her daily skating sessions “just to see how it moves… just for fun,” she exclaims. Marshall continues, “The dopamine high of skating around in a flowy dress: I 10 out of 10 recommend!” This natural high led to an idea to do a show or photo shoot where she could have pro skaters wearing her collection and she would watch them move in tandem with the fashions to create a new fashionable synergy. “Not wear them to compete or perform in,” explains the designer, “but more to explore the way they’d create movement and to capture that joy I’ve grown to love.”
Initially, Marshall set about creating garments that would respond to the movement in very specific ways. But she found herself getting way too into the technicalities and not feeling the serendipitous joy that that originally captured her personal experiment. She soon turned to some professional skaters who she had recently met and pitched the idea of a collaboration where she would create the garments, and they would skate in them to create a personal, interactive symphony of fashion and movement. “Ultimately, I wanted a collaborative effort to see how they were inspired to play and move in my garments,” says Marshall. “My biggest purpose in designing anything is to bring a sense of joy and uplift to the wearer. We all need fun and play in our lives, now more than ever.”
For Fall 2024, Leanne Marshall sent her collection onto the very sheet of ice that gave her so much inspiration in the recent months. 7 skaters took to the ice of Bryant Park in a free style, exuberant way to explore the limits of what happens when Marshall’s fashions meet the wind of the free skate. The results proved even more visually striking than what Marshall imagined! The skaters literally had to be pulled off the ice to change into the next ensemble as they were genuinely energized by the fashionable symphony in which they were performing.
It seems that the skaters weren’t the only participants to find joy in Marshall’s presentation. The designer herself has found a renewed sense of creative drive as a result, “For a long time, I felt really burnt out from my work and the industry. Just designing things I knew would sell felt incredibly empty,” admits Marshall. “We all need to make money to survive, but I felt so disconnected. Now, I realize it’s my purpose to create pieces and art that make people feel good. THAT is my ‘Why’.”