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San Francisco Designer Talks Fall Trends (and Project Runway!)

After our Installation event on the 3rd floor of Bloomingdale’s, we moved to our special area on the 2nd floor where San Francisco-based designer (and Project Runway alum) Melissa Fleis shared her thoughts on Fall trends and (of course) her experience on Project Runway.  (She thinks Tim Gunn is the best…he could be counted on to speak the truth about the designs.)

Melissa was first interviewed by outgoing President Adena DiTonno, where she talked about how Project Runway contacted her, the audition process, and the timing of those 24-hour challenges (yes, they really only had 30 minutes to come up with a concept, and then 24 hours to shop at Mood, create, fit and be ready to show the finished product!)

Melissa speaking close 2

The program transitioned into ​Melissa’s perspective on Fall trends and how to ‘make it work’ for the season.  Bright pops of color – red, lime green, and pink – were combined with graphic prints, as were darker, muted shades, like muddied forest green.  Color-blocking and neons are still on-trend. Leather is showing up everywhere- pants,tops,skirts, and trim- which is great for this up and coming designer whose specialty is custom leather, especially her cropped, go-everywhere jackets.  Melissa showed some of her custom leather jackets, vests and clutches, which work beautifully with the pieces she pulled from the floors of Bloomingdale’s to illustrate the trends.

melissa photo combo

Following her presentation, the audience had the opportunity to ask their questions of Melissa – where to purchase her designs (soon to be available at NWBLK, now by custom-order with her)…who was her favorite guest judge on Project Runway (Patricia Fields, of Sex and the City fame)…what were the best and worst parts of Project Runway (best: of course, just being chosen to be on the show was fabulous, and then when she had her first win;  worst: when she lost!)…how long does it take to make her leather jackets (because she’s still doing all the work herself from start to finish, it could take up to a month; but it is a custom jacket, after all!)…was it easier for her to sketch or design (she learned a lot about herself from Project Runway – sometimes it came together just by draping the fabric on the mannequin, other times she had an instant vision and sketched it first.)  One additional tidbit we learned was that the designers don’t get to keep their designs – they are owned by Project Runway and sold by auction. In fact, Melissa had a friend buy back one of her favorite pieces – a leather romper, which she combines with a floor-length flowing, sheer ‘coat’.

bianca at presentation


Thanks to Melissa for graciously sharing her time with us, to our Event Chair, Gillian Armour, AICI CIP, and to Cati Gallardo of Bloomingdale’s for a great evening of fashion with Melissa Fleis and our fellow image consultants!

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