Fleis and designers cause destruction on latest edition of ‘Runway’

by Richard Lamb–Advance Editor

Rogers City’s favorite television fashion designer, Melissa Fleis caused some destruction last week—but that was exactly the plan. She and the other competitors on the Lifetime television show “Project Runway All Stars” had to create fashion out of chaos.

Radical means to distress garments were required of the designers. So competitors used a combination of fire, bleach, paint, sandpaper, tea bags, knives, fake blood, charcoal, a soldering iron or scissors to go for a post-apocalyptic look. The results were called “the best runway we’ve ever seen,” one judge said.

Project Runway all star Melissa Fleis
Project Runway all star Melissa Fleis

“The most difficult thing was trying to lightly blow torch the fabric for my quilted, multi-functional parachute vest. It wanted to go up in flames! The other pieces were much easier to distress. I hand distressed the asymmetrical white cotton top, and then spray painted the leather leggings silver. Next time I will definitely wear gloves while spray painting my garments though,” Melissa told the Advance.

Editor-in-chief Anne Fulenwider of the fashion magazine Marie Claire, the mentor for the designers, told Fleis to be sure the judges would be able to see the distressing.

“I really loved this challenge. I find post-apocalyptic ideals and imagery to be very appealing; so I loved being able to envision and create a look for a fictional character. The result was warrior-like. Think of a character in more of a Mad Max/Blade Runner style movie versus the Walking Dead,” Melissa said.

She has some experience creating similar looks, she said.

“I was grateful I had some experience under my belt. I hand distress a lot of my garments’ hemlines and other small details, but I’ve never created an overall look based solely on a post-apocalyptic theme. The vest was really fun to make, and it doubles as a sleeping bag,” Melissa said.

Melissa created a garment that placed her safely in the middle of the pack, surviving week two’s challenge to move on to the third week of competition. The show featuring the third week of competition will air tonight (Thursday) at 9 p.m. on Lifetime television. Guest judge Whoopi Goldberg joins the show this week to help critique the designers’ creations.

DESIGNER MELISSA Fleis used some destructive means to create this garment for the television show “Project Runway All Stars.” (Photo courtesy of Lifetime)
DESIGNER MELISSA Fleis used some destructive means to create this garment for the television show “Project Runway All Stars.” (Photo courtesy of Lifetime)

This week the designers are paired with another designer to create a garment. The catch is they must work together or face the reality that both of them could be sent home. Tonight’s episode is billed as a double-elimination challenge.

Melissa, daughter of Jim and Doris Fleis of Rogers City, is making her third appearance on the “Project Runway” franchise.

The 1998 graduate of Rogers City High School (RCHS) and University of Michigan graduate appeared on season 10 of the Lifetime network show that aired from August through October 2012. She placed third in that season, outlasting a dozen other designers to make it to the finals of the show.

Melissa made a return to the show, placing ninth on season three of “Project Runway All Stars.”

The winner of “Project Runway All Stars” will receive a fashion spread in Marie Claire magazine and a position as contributing editor for a year, and a complete sewing studio from Brother Sewing and Embroidery. The winner also receives a trip to London, England, and luxurious skincare and makeup from Rodial and accessories and styling services from Intermix, to enhance their next collection. To round out the generous prize package the winner receives a $100,000 grand prize.

“Thanks again to everyone tuning in!” Melissa told her fans.