Coleen Scott

How Melissa Fleis Makes It Work

Melissa Fleis, Fashion Designer

Melissa Fleis, Fashion Designer

 

If you’re looking for a Project Runway alum with edge and drive, Melissa Fleis is your woman.  A finalist from season ten, and a competitor on All Stars season three, she plays with leather, angle and line, often accented with pops of color.  She likes her black, but she’s not afraid to think outside of the little black box that some designers can get trapped in.  Melissa  uses color wisely, whether it’s to accent her desired silhouette, or to draw attention to details.  She’s a badass, sexy woman, and when we look at her clothes, that’s who we envision wearing them.  We caught up with Melissa, getting her fashion hustle on from San Francisco, and she shared more details about what’s up-and-coming in her fashionable world.  Before we give too much away, we’ll let her tell you in her own words.

HOW MELISSA FLEIS MAKES IT WORK

1.  Who are you, and what season/s did you participate in? 

Melissa Fleis, fashion designer based in San Francisco.  I was a finalist on Project Runway Season 10, and designer on Project Runway All Stars Season 3.

2. Please give a brief description of your design style.

Artisanal modern design with a feminine edge.
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From Melissa Fleis' Defiant Collection

From Melissa Fleis’ Defiant Collection

 

3.  What was the most challenging thing about the Project Runway experience BESIDES the challenges themselves?

The most challenging thing for me was time management. I always found myself working until the final seconds before the runway.

4.  Who have you met or worked with during or since the Project Runway experience that you are most proud of or excited about?

I have been showing a lot with Mychael Knight, Daniel Esquivel, Jeffrey Sebelia, and Michelle Lesniak. I can’t say who I’m proud of the most. I’m just proud of us all!
Melissa at Dirty Habit, Palomar Hotel, San Francisco

Melissa at Dirty Habit, Palomar Hotel, San Francisco

5.  What are you currently working on or excited about professionally?

I continue to work on my own collections, as well as, custom orders, and designing uniforms for a new Kimpton restaurant in San Francisco. Hustling to make this all work!

 6.  Besides the basics, what sewing notion or tool could you NEVER do without?

My leather hammer!

 

 7.  Is there anything else you’d like us to know or see?

Some of my pieces are currently being sold at CHURCH Boutique in Los Angeles and Olivia Boutique in Los Altos, CA. I will also be launching my e-commerce site soon, so customers can order directly from the website!
(Update:  Since our interview, Melissa has launched her site!  You can find it here: http://melissafleis.com)
From Melissa Fleis' Defiant Collection

From Melissa Fleis’ Defiant Collection

Thanks so much to Melissa for taking the time to talk to us!  Melissa, we wish you nothing but the best with the Defiant Collection and the new site! – C.Scott
You can get in touch with Melissa on Twitter @MelissaFleis, or check out the website at melissafleis.com.
All text and images provided by Melissa Fleis unless watermarked, linked, or specified.

 

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How Ken Laurence Makes It Work

Ken Laurence

Ken Laurence

We were holding our breath last week as Project Runway Season 13 aired, waiting to see which former Project Runway designer would be chosen in the Runway Redemption campaign.  Alas, the brilliant Ken Laurence did not make it onto season 13, but as Twitter fans talked about how much they loved Ken, we suggested perhaps he should have his own show.  Ken’s designs have a clear point of view of elegance, structure, and luxury, and we loved seeing everything he chose to put down the runway in Season 12.  Ken presents himself in a chic and classy way, a perfect representative for his brand.  His time was cut too short on Project Runway, but since his participation, Ken has been careful in choosing which opportunities will propel him on his path to design success.  We caught up with Ken recently to find out what he has been up to and where his focus and determination has led him since the show.

HOW KEN LAURENCE MAKES IT WORK

1.  Who are you, and what season/s did you participate in?  
My name is Ken Laurence and I finished in eighth place during Project Runway season 12.
 2.  Please give a brief description of your design style.
The brand is acknowledged for using luxurious textiles in classic silhouettes with a touch of modern aesthetic to create dynamic dresses, structural jackets, and wearable separates.
Ken Laurence Dress Design

Ken Laurence Dress Design

Ken Laurence Structured Top

Ken Laurence Structured Top

3.  What was the most challenging thing about the Project Runway experience BESIDES the challenges themselves?
Let me start by quoting Michael Kors, “Project Runway is not for sissies!”  The competition is harder than it appears to be on television. But personally, the hardest part for me was adapting to the production schedule; 18 – 20 hour work days bought the pressure, stress, and meltdowns.  However, overall the experience was amazing!
4.  Who have you met or worked with during or since the Project Runway experience that you are most proud of or excited about?
After Project Runway, I’ve had the chance to dress a few celebrities, but I declined the opportunities.  After filming, I had a meeting with investors for the clothing line Baby Phat, and I was enlightened by the business side of the fashion industry on how to keep my brand afloat when I re-launch. So, that’s where all my attention has gone.
5.  Besides the basics, what sewing notion or tool could you NEVER do without?
Well, I could not live without my rotary cutter. It makes cutting so much faster at times.
Fiskars Rotary Cutter

Fiskars Rotary Cutter

6.  How has social media impacted your life after Project Runway?
After Project Runway my followers increased greatly on Facebook and Twitter. (Find Ken on Twitter at @_KenLaurence_ , and on Facebook at DesignerKenLaurence)
7.  What are you currently working on or excited about professionally?
I am currently working on a few projects. I just re-launched my new website,www.kenlaurence.com. I am currently working on my non-profit organization, The GLAM Foundation. My Pre-Spring 2015 collection has just been photographed (awaiting the finished images).  I will be designing a collection for Spring 2015, and showing at Philadelphia Fashion Week in September.
www.kenlaurence.com

Ken Laurence Designs

Special Thanks to Ken for taking the time to talk with us.  Ken we wish you all the best as your brand re-launches and grows! -C. Scott

All text and images provided by Ken Laurence unless watermarked, linked, or specified.

Using Paper Patterns: Doin’ It Old School

Simplicity Sewing Video 1948

Simplicity Sewing Video 1948

Simplicity Sewing Video 1948

 

We’ve gotten requests from our followers to  post more information on sewing and construction.  Well, we thought we’d start with a classic.  If you can just get past the old school pre-feminist ideas of home economics and the nuclear family social construct, you will find that the information about paper pattern use, marking and even basic construction techniques is really fantastic.  We were even reminded about thread-marking for darts, which for anyone who sews, is a godsend.  It takes a little longer sometimes, but it’s accurate!  Enjoy!

 

How Justin LeBlanc Makes It Work

Photo by Curtis Brown

Justin LeBlanc

In Season 12 of Project Runway, the incredible batch of designers did not disappoint.  Shining in the forefront of the talented group was Justin LeBlanc, Assistant Professor in The College of Design at North Carolina State University.  Justin, who has interned with Alexander McQueen and Nick Cave, was a designer who demonstrated innovative style, and a fighting will to win.  Justin is no stranger to overcoming obstacles; he grew up without his sense of hearing.  Through a recent cochlear implant he has acquired hearing, but his developed sense of creating strong visuals was honed without the sense of sound, and we think this lends so much to Justin’s original aesthetic.  As a finalist in Season 12, Justin wowed the audience with his unconventional gown made of test tubes and his 3-D printed accessories.  It goes without saying that Justin’s designs inspire.  They inspire awe, creativity, inquisitiveness, and most of all, we know that they will inspire the future of fashion.

Photo by Curtis Brown

Test Tube Gown and 3-D Printed Accessory by Justin LeBlanc

HOW JUSTIN LEBLANC MAKES IT WORK

1.  Who are you, and what season/s did you participate in? 

My name is Justin LeBlanc, and I was on Season 12 of Project Runway. I was one of the top three finalists. 

2. Please give a brief description of your design style.

My design style focuses on the exploration of new materials and technologies ranging from the use of innovative materials, to 3-D printing. Through the use of technology, I am able to challenge the viewers as to what is considered to be the norm in fashion. 

I also utilize architectural and textural elements in my designs. You will always see interesting combinations of textiles and the use of shape and form in my garments. Intricate gathering and layering are characteristic of my garments. I also use patterns to accentuate the form of my garments.

Photo by Curtis Brown

Test Tube Gown and 3-D Printed Accessory By Justin LeBlanc

3.  What was the most challenging thing about the Project Runway experience BESIDES the challenges themselves?

The most challenging thing about Project Runway was the day-to-day schedule. It was grueling, both physically and emotionally. There was constant uncertainty about what the next day would bring, and very little time to create. It required a great deal of stamina and focus. You had to be at the top of your game without the support of friends and family, and in the midst of what was, at best, organized chaos. 

4.  Who have you met or worked with during or since the Project Runway experience that you are most proud of or excited about?

Well, that would have to be Tim Gunn. I haven’t spoken to him since the PR days but through his support in tough times, constructive criticism, constant respect, and endless encouragement, he made me a better designer and person. 

I have been able to channel my experience on Project Runway into what I love the most—designing and teaching and (I hope) challenging students. I learned a lot about designing and my abilities as I worked through each PR challenge. I learned through the failures and triumphs. I have also been able to reflect on that experience and use it to inspire my and challenge my students, and to share my experience with students in other universities. 

5.  What have you been working on, and what are you excited about professionally since Project Runway?

I’ve recently finished teaching the Spring semester at North Carolina State University. I also presented my recent Fall/Winter Collection 2014/15 at Charleston Fashion week, and more recently at a show in Houston. It has received wonderful reviews, and I can’t wait to show my next collection. I am currently working on my Spring/Summer 2015 collection, which will be my first solo show, debuting at the end of August.

6.  Besides the basics, what sewing notion or tool could you NEVER do without?

I could never live without my rulers!  I use them to plan the intricate layering and outlines of my garments. And of course, I want to make sure that I use the measurements needed to create the best fit for whomever wears my garments. 

7.  Is there anything else you’d like us to know or see?

If you want to keep up with me, make sure you follow me on Twitter and Instagram to get the latest news and events relating to my work at @JLeBlancDesign. Also, you will soon be able to buy products from my Fall/Winter Collection and 3-D printed items on JLeBlancDesign.com 

Photo by Curtis Brown

Justin LeBlanc

We’d like to thank Justin so very much for all of his generous input, and beautiful images.  We wish him the best of luck in everything he does in the future, and hope to stay in touch!  It has been a pleasure chatting with you, Justin! -C. Scott

All text and photo content provided by Justin LeBlanc, and photos credited to Curtis Brown, unless watermarked, linked, or specified.

 

Eliza Bennett’s Stitch in Time

Eliza Bennett's "A Woman's Work Is Never Done"

Eliza Bennett’s “A Woman’s Work Is Never Done”

This is one example of Eliza Bennett’s  “A Woman’s Work Is Never Done” series of embroideries on her own hand.  The stitches are meant to make the hands look more worn, representing the struggles of primarily female-centric, lower paid,  jobs of cleaning and caring.   Eliza Bennet received a BTEC National Diploma in art, with a focus on textiles. She also has a background in Fashion Design from Middlesex University.  She is London based.

The actual hand work and craft in this visually narrative series of literal “hand embroidery” is somewhat disturbing to look at, but intriguing and beautiful at the same time.  You can see more images of this series in Empty Kingdom’s feature on Miss Bennett.

Eliza’s series reminds us of a project from a couple of years back where we embroidered into a model’s skin and hands as a celebration of Canada Day.  When we created this image, were thinking of doing an entire series inspired by body embroidery, and Eliza’s work has made us think about going back to that early work, to make more of a statement about “suffering for fashion”.  Stay tuned!

 

Photo by Ben Trivett, Embroidery, Makeup by Coleen Scott

Canada Day Photo by Ben Trivett

 

 

 

How Oscar Lopez Makes It Work

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 Photo by Natasha Kertes

This Spring, Lifetime replaced a second annual season of Project Runway with it’s new fashion designer series, Under The Gunn, hosted by the incomparable, Tim Gunn.  We were skeptical at first, but after seeing the magical garment construction of Oscar Lopez, from Coral Gables, Florida, we were hooked.  Much to our delight, Oscar was the winner of Under The Gunn, and he’s been caught up in a whirlwind of work and exciting opportunities since then.   Just this month, he has replica garments from Under The Gunn being sold through show sponsor Francesca’s, and a feature shoot in Marie Claire magazine.  We had the opportunity to catch up with the very busy, and extremely gracious, Oscar for an EXCLUSIVE interview about his Under The Gunn experience, and what life is like after being crowned the next great fashion designer.

Ozcar G -1

Photo by Yobe Photography

HOW OSCAR LOPEZ MAKES IT WORK

1.  Who are you, and what season or show did you participate in?

My name is Oscar Lopez and I am the winner of the first season of Project Runway’s “Under the Gunn” series.

2.  Please give a brief description of your design style.

I am not much of a “ready-to-wear” kind of designer.  Although I do some, my design style is more evening wear, with ensembles that carry the wow factor, and that are elegant, chic, sexy, and glamorous at the same time.  I like the use of beautiful embroideries, sequins, and french laces.  Creating a plain and simple look is just not me.  I leave that for other designers!

Image

Image

3.  What was the most challenging thing about the Under The Gunn experience BESIDES the challenges themselves?

The pressure and time constraint to design and execute a complete look in less than 8 hours. The fact that we weren’t allowed to have any kind of contact with anybody outside of the production team, meaning family or friends.  Being a bit sleep deprived after a while, due to so many hours of filming daily.

4.  Who have you met or worked with during or since Under The Gunn, that you are most proud of or excited about?

Rachel Roy, she is an extremely gentle, humble and sweet human being. I am very excited that she picked me to design her 2014 Met Gala gown, and a few other things that I can’t say for now.

Rachel Roy 1

Rachel Roy in her Oscar Lopez custom gown (and photos from Oscar’s studio) for the 2014 Met Gala.

5.  What have you been working on, and what are you excited about since Under The Gunn?

Working from Monday through Sunday!  Between the work, the trips, the interviews, the galas that I had already committed to prior to the show, the TV appearances, and everything else, it has become a bit overwhelming, but very happy at the same time.  Can’t wait for my Francesca’s collection to come out, and my Marie Claire Spread!

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Oscar’s winning runway design on Under The Gunn, and Francesca’s reproduction.

6.  Besides the basics, what sewing notion or tool could you NEVER do without?

My clothing care tailor’s ham.

7.  How has social media impacted your life after Under The Gunn?

Social media has always been an amazing outlet for my work, and from the moment I was announced as a participant on Under the Gunn the fans started to pile up.  It’s great to be able to interact with people across the US and abroad almost instantly, as they were watching the show.  Now that the show is done, a great amount of people continue to seek my work, and hire me as their designer through social media.  It is an excellent way of keeping in touch with those that admire my work, and in return I get to give them first hand account of what’s going on with me, and what I’m doing next.

8.  Is there anything else you’d like us to know or see?

Yes, that I thank very much and from the bottom of my heart, all the people, fans, and friends that followed me from the time the show first aired, till now.  Thank you for all the support and beautiful comments sent my way.  Thanks also for supporting me, and rooting for me all the way.  Thanks especially to my life partner.  Without him, this triumph wouldn’t be possible.

Watch out for my next surprises on Instagram and Twitter @realoscarlopez!

Oscar Gold-Dress 1

 

We’d like to thank Oscar so very much for all of his generous, honest, input, and beautiful images.  We wish him the best of luck in everything he does in the future, and hope to stay in touch!  It has been a pleasure chatting with you, Oscar! -C. Scott

All text and photo content provided by Oscar Lopez, unless watermarked, linked, or specified.

 

Under The Gunn Season Two is Happening!

Under The Gunn Season Two!

Under The Gunn Season Two!

A new season of Under the Gunn is in the works, and just as we’re gearing up for Project Runway: Season 13!  Three new mentors, and a whole set of new contestants! We can’t wait to see what’s in store. 

How Sam Donovan Makes It Work

Sam Donovan Selfie

Sam Donovan Selfie

Sam Donovan is a young designer from the Boston area, full of ideas and an expert at pin-pointing what’s next in ready-to-wear.  He is a Parsons alum, and has the skill set to make any Alma Mater proud.  We saw this skill demonstrated on Project Runway’s Under The Gunn, and were intrigued early on. Especially when he put a pair of overalls down the runway in a red carpet challenge, and WON.  We caught up with Sam recently, to see what he’s been up to since the show aired.

Photos from Lifetime's Under the Gunn

Sam Donovan’s Evening Wear Overalls

 HOW SAM DONOVAN MAKES IT WORK

1.  Who are you, and what season/s did you participate in? 

I’m Sam Donovan, Runner-Up on Season 1 of Project Runway: Under the Gunn.

2.  Please give a brief description of your design style.

I like to think of my design style as a revved-up version of casual wear-my girl is the most fabulously dressed girl at her Sunday brunch in Brooklyn. Very street wear inspired, with graphic, athletic lines, done in an eclectic mix of prints and textures.

 

From Sam Donovan's Twitter

A Slice of Sam Donovan’s Under The Gunn Designs

3.  What was the most challenging thing about the Under The Gunn experience BESIDES the challenges themselves?

I think the most challenging aspect of Under the Gunn was trying not to get stuck in a rut, while making sure I always finished on time. I may have defaulted to one too many circle skirts in the interest of maintaining my time management.

4.  Who have you met or worked with during or since the Under The Gunn experience that you are most proud of or excited about?

Asha Ama Daniels (a fellow Under the Gunn designer) has been such an inspiration to me. She has a great energy and resilience to the harshness of the fashion world that comes out in her work, and she’s energized me to convey my rebellious attitude towards fashion in my work.

Sam Donovan and his mentor on Under The Gunn, Mondo

Sam Donovan and His mentor on Under The Gunn, Mondo

5.  What are you currently working on or excited about professionally?

Right now I’m working on some client work (mostly drag queens) as well as applying for jobs, and thinking about my own work, and where I want to take it in the future.

6.  Besides the basics, what sewing notion or tool could you NEVER do without?

I have my grandmother’s red measuring tape from her old sewing kit, that I never work without.  It’s like she’s draping the garment with me when I construct.  Also, sharpies for marking stubborn fabrics.

7.  Is there anything else you’d like us to know or see?

I think if there’s anything else people need to know about me, it’s that I generally use more color than I showed on Under the Gunn!
Sam with his Under The Gunn Finale Collection

Sam with his Under The Gunn Finale Collection

If you want to connect with Sam, check out his website at http://www.samueljdonovan.com!

Special thanks to Sam for taking the time to chat with us.  Sam, we wish you all the best, in whatever you do, and if you’re ever in New York, get in touch! -C. Scott

All interview text and photo content provided by Sam Donovan, unless watermarked, linked, or specified.

 

Sean Carswell is Brilliant and You Should Read Everything He Writes

Sean Carswell is a brilliant author of several novels.  You should read them all.  If you don’t have a chance right this moment to go out and buy one, you should at least check out his long-running magazine, and now punk podcast and website- Razorcake.  And even then, if you can’t do that- but you can, because we just gave you the link- you should follow his blog, which often has amazing articles and stories and rants from Razorcake.  Sean teaches English at Cal State University, Channel Islands, and his students better know how lucky they are.  This is what it looks like when the punker kid from Cocoa Beach, Florida, grows up and studies Pynchon.  Lookin’ good, Mr. Carswell.  Lookin’ good.

Sean Carswell in Ventura, CA

Author Sean Carswell. Photo by Ben Trivett

The Day Kristen Stewart Cropped Her Hair and Her Top

Kristen Stewart Debuts her new Hair Style at Chanel Couture in Paris

Kristen Stewart at Chanel Couture, Paris

It’s the Paris Couture Fashion Week buzz of the day: Kristen Stewart.

She arrived at the Chanel Couture show all in white, looking fabulous in a cropped top, and with a cropped hair style to match. She’s been the new face of Chanel since December, and the partnership seems successful, with Stewart’s looks and style giving Chanel an edgier feel than they’ve presented in the past.

Kristen Stewart and Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel Haute Couture Show, Paris for F2014

Kristen Stewart and Karl Lagerfeld

For even more images of Kristen at Chanel’s show, check out Hello Magazine’s coverage.  You can also vote on Kristen’s look at People.com