Rogers City’s favorite and most famous fashion designer is back on network television. Melissa Fleis, daughter of Jim and Doris Fleis of Rogers City, is making a return to the Lifetime television show “Project Runway All Stars.” The series premieres tonight (Thursday) at 9 p.m. on Lifetime.
“Life has been very busy these past three years. I’ve moved my business to Southern California, and just moved into a new design studio and showroom in downtown Los Angeles. I have a ready-to-wear line that is available to shop on melissafleis.com, and I also continue to design custom garments for private clients. Another significant part of my business involves partnering and designing products for various companies ranging from hospitality to fashion,” she told the Advance.
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.
“I can’t believe this will be my third time on the show! I’m honored “Project Runway” keeps asking me back, and very grateful for every experience. The approach this season is one of ease. I really have nothing to lose, and only opportunities to be as creative as possible. This is my favorite part of my job, which I enjoy only 30 percent of the time. I’ve learned that following my intuition when designing or making is my number one ally. If I do that, it’s magic,” she said.
“Thank you Rogers City for your continued support. It means so much to me. Happy New Year!”
Each week the designers are challenged to create wardrobe pieces based on the theme of the week. The program shows the rush of creating the work with sometimes limited resources and under strict deadlines. That sets the stage for tension as the designers work under pressure to be creative and please the judges. One designer is voted off at the end of each week.
Melissa made a return to the show, placing ninth on season three of “Project Runway All Stars.” Since then, Melissa’s clear vision and passion for her craft has allowed her to achieve a great deal of success in a short amount of time, specializing in custom-leather jackets and clutches.
Melissa is known to create dramatic gowns with powerful, yet feminine designs that bring a punk-edge to high fashion. Her ability to use the color black in a way that communicates versatility and lightness sets her apart from other designers. She knows the competition will be fierce this time around on “All Stars,” but Melissa has her eye on the prize.
After season 10, the Rogers City City Council honored her efforts as it declared Nov. 3, 2012 “Melissa Fleis Day.” Advance publisher Richard Lamb and Rogers City Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Raymond Spain arranged sponsors for her travel expenses to the attend the chamber annual dinner that day where she was a guest of honor and she spoke to the gathering.
Lamb also served as her driver and host the day before the dinner, arranging appearances at local schools. He took her to talk with students at St. Ignatius Catholic School, where she attended through eighth-grade. She also met with students at Rogers City Elementary School and with Melissa Wozniak’s class at RCHS spreading excitement to students who reveled in meeting a real television star. Students were impressed with her talent and her down-to-earth manner of handling questions.
She is one of eight veteran all-stars who return for their third go-round on the show. One of those is designer Fabio Costa, who competed with Fleis in season 10. The other eight designers are rookies to the all- star format, but are competitors from previous “Project Runway” seasons.
Alyssa Milano returns as host while Georgina Chapman and Isaac Mizrahi will continue to judge and Marie Claire editor-in-chief Anne Fulenwider will step in as this season’s mentor. Guest judges include Catherine Zeta-Jones, Whoopi Goldberg, Dita Von Teese, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Rebecca Minkoff, Danielle Brooks, Olivia Culpo, Rosie Perez, RuPaul, Kelly Osbourne, Karolina Kurkova, Kasey Musgraves and “Project Runway’s” Nina Garcia and Zac Posen.
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. The winner receives a $100,000 grand prize.