Fleis one step closer to finals on ‘Runway’

Melissa Fleis in action on "Project Runway" (photo courtesy of Lifetime)

by Richard Lamb–Advance Editor

(Excerpted from Oct. 4, 2012 Presque Isle County Advance)–They are down to the final five and Rogers City’s Melissa Fleis is in the running. With only two more cuts before the finals, which will feature three designers, the Lifetime television reality show “Project Runway” has eliminated 11 of the original 16 contestants in a variety of challenges.

Last week, designer Elena Slivnyak was told she was out when her design for a baby’s outfit didn’t please the judges in the 11th episode of season 10 of the show. Fleis, the daughter of Jim and Doris Fleis and a 1998 graduate of Rogers City High School, faced the “It’s Fashion Baby” episode with her usual determination shown on the show.

When early favorite Ven Buhdu was eliminated in week 10, the designers knew the pressure was on to produce.

“Ven going home is unbelievable. It is getting really serious and I know I have to design something really awesome,” she said early in the show.  Time became an issue for Melissa. She fell behind the others and barely finished constructing the garments before Gunn had to ask her to leave the sewing room to go to the runway for judging.

On the runway, a visibly nervous Fleis fell to the bottom along with Slivnyak. The judges thought Slivnyak’s looked like a hand-me-down that wasn’t practical to wear. Judges were critical of Melissa’s dress for being too sophisticated for a baby, but liked the jacket she created.

Standing on the runway, the two awaited the decision. “Melissa,” Klum said, and then made a long, dramatic pause, “you are in.” Melissa nodded thanks and headed off to the waiting room were the other four safe designers greeted her. “Oh, I can’t breathe,” she said as they congratulated her. Sonjia Williams and Christopher Palu were named the winners of the challenge. For Palu, it was his fourth win while Williams won her third challenge.

The remaining three designers each have one win. Next up are the final two episodes of the show before the finals. In previews for Thursday’s show, Klum hints that maybe two designers will be out. The show airs Thursday’s at 9 p.m. on Lifetime television.

(More on the show and comments from Melissa are in the Oct. 4, 2012 Advance)