The Palomar

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.


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.
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:
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
All text and images provided by Melissa Fleis unless watermarked, linked, or specified.