Kent's fashion designer earns shot to compete on 'Project Runway'

Kent's Cindy Marlatt is making inroads in fashion design.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Cindy Marlatt, an emerging local fashion designer, is sizing up the national competition.

The Kent woman – who has realized her dreams by pursuing her passion in apparel – was one of 16 clothing designers from throughout the country chosen to vie for top honors and prizes in Season 11 of "Project Runway", a reality TV series that premieres at 9 p.m. next Thursday on Lifetime.

"It was fabulous. It was a (full range) of emotions every day," Marlatt said of the experience. "I'd do it again 100 times. It was a wonderful experience. It was such a thrill to be included in that group of people."

Marlatt, 60, and other designers used the spotlight of New York City as inspiration to create garments during the first episode, but quickly discovered working in teams for the season challenged their patience and creativity.

The series was filmed entirely in the Big Apple. Marlatt said filming recently wrapped up but could not divulge the show's outcome.

"It was more intense than I could ever imagine," Marlatt said. "People have no idea of how hard it is to be creative under those circumstances. Everything is so fast."

In "Project Runway", contestants compete with each other to create the best clothes and are restricted in time, materials and theme. Their designs are judged, and one or more designers are eliminated each week.

For Marlatt and the other designers, it was fierce. Contestants had to watch their backs while keeping their eyes on the prize as they worked together to impress supermodel and fashion maven Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn, Nina Garcia and featured judge Zac Posen and guest judge, Season 4 "Project Runway" winner Christian Siriano.

"The judges were tough but fair," Marlatt said.

Working with other creative minds proved even tougher for Marlatt.

"That was a nightmare," she said. "I'm stubborn ... you learn to work with others ... but working in groups is difficult."

Especially with so much creativity in play and with so much on the line.

The season's victorious designer received $100,000 from L'Oréal Paris to start his or her own apparel line, in addition to a fashion spread in Marie Claire magazine, a 2013 Lexus GS 350, a $50,000 technology suite by HP and Intel to create and run a business and the opportunity to design and sell an exclusive collection at Lord & Taylor.

For Marlatt, the opportunity to shine on national TV turned out to be a great opportunity. She is determined to give her fashion design work a full-time go – her third career, sort of speak.

She drove a UPS truck as a single mom during the 1980s, then met and joined her husband in owning and operating a funeral home in Kent. She raised three kids of her own, and helped raise two more inherited from her husband.

Marlatt earned a degree in fashion design at the Art Institute of Seattle, where she presented nine of her designs at the school's fashion show last March.

She went to New York City to do a three-month internship at Ann Taylor in Times Square.

Marlatt, who began designing clothes for her family when she was a little girl, hopes to open her own clothing line, providing apparel to Nordstrom and local boutiques.

She produces high-end products "because I love the beautiful fabric like silk and wool."

Her design's primary focus is on movement and comfort, producing the right look for professional women, ages 35-50.

Marlatt is enjoying the ride.

"It's what I love to do," she said.

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