Last night, on the finale of “Project Runway All Stars,” Dom Streater proved yet again that she is a quiet storm not to be reckoned with. I got the chance to talk with the Season 5 winner about everything from her second “Runway” win and her fantasy top three “All Stars” to her next big role as mommy! Check out our convo below:
You’re the first…a lot of things. You’re the first African American to win “Project Runway,” the first African American to win All Stars and the first woman!
Yes, apparently I like to set the bar high.
Did you plan on being a trailblazer?
No, not at all. It was so weird, I didn’t even think about it before “All Stars” that all the winners were white guys until someone pointed it out towards the end of the competition and I was like, “Oh yeah that’s true, I didn’t realize that no woman has ever won. “I
Can you tell me a little bit about when you got the call to be on “All Stars” and what made you decide to come back?
I got the invite last year and was kind of skeptical because at that point it had only been two years since I won “Project Runway.” And in my head I wasn’t sure how appropriate it would be if I went back so soon or if I was ready to go back. There were a lot of factors pushing me towards not wanting to do it. And then I had a talk with my husband and he told me, “You’ll regret if you don’t go do it. You’ll never know if you’ll get the chance to go back again. You should just take it and go have fun.” Because I actually really liked doing “Project Runway.” It’s a lot more exciting then your everyday life as a designer when you’re sketching something out for six months and you have to do this whole long drawn out process. So that was a big part of why I decided to go back because I actually do enjoy the process of being on the show and I didn’t want to look back with regret that I didn’t do it.
I just want to talk very briefly about Sam because as you can imagine the comment boards fill up with talk about him. Did you sense any sort of preferential treatment?
No – the whole Sam topic is very interesting because of all the things that the audience doesn’t see that happens off camera. I found it frustrating when I would read the forums and the fans would get really mad. For example, that thing that happened when Ken yelled at Sam. People were freaking out about it saying he was bullying Sam. But what people don’t know is that Sam, Ken, Asha, and I were very close friends during filming and we all talked to each other about the competition and the way things were going. So to the audience he just yelled at Sam out of nowhere, but it was the end of this whole long discussion that had happened between them. So things that the audience doesn’t know behind the scenes and how it’s being perceived by the designers on the show as it’s happening, it plays very different on TV when they don’t see all the little nuances of our relationship.
But I think the way that it shook out ended up being very fair.
Oh yeah, yeah, yeah! “Project Runway” in general is fair to everybody! We all have really bad moments on that show maybe where we say things we don’t mean or do things we don’t mean. So I think it’s more than fair. People say, “We were edited that way,” but no, actually the show is very upfront and honest in a very nice way about how we interact with each other. It could look a lot worse.
And like in the case with Ken, the retrospective of looking at how you are presented could actually change who you are. I think that he really went through an evolution. You were on Season 12 with him and you saw how different he is now compared to how he was then.
Ken matured a ton. I have been friends with him since Season 12 so I was there with him as he walked that journey and matured as a designer and as a person. Like you said, after Season 12 he saw how it came across on TV and I think he realized that he doesn’t have to be this tough guy with walls up all the time and he let his guard down. I think it helped a lot in terms of what the viewers’ opinion of him was. They saw that he was a lot nicer than he came across in Season 12. He really is, he’s such a super sweet guy all the time! But in those really weird moments that would happen during filming, everyone thinks he looks like a monster.
Speaking of, how did you feel about the crazy curveballs in the competition, like no elimination twice and the Sam and Ken showdown on the runway. Did that change your approach at all?
No, for me it was just frustrating in a general sense because we had all worked so hard in each of those challenges. For them to say that no one was out was super frustrating. In the beginning of the competition, specifically with “All Stars,” because we’ve all done this before so we kind of know how this goes, if you don’t bring the big guns out in the beginning then you’re probably not going to survive. So I don’t know why that was the harder decision for them to make versus later on in the competition when people really did have great bodies of work and they would send them home without hesitation.
Who do you think in particular got robbed?
Oh Emily, absolutely. I felt like she was such a consistent and interesting designer and even though she did make it somewhat far. It was really weird that they decided to send her home especially because I don’t feel like Emily had the worst design that week so that was doubly frustrating to see her go home. I love Sam, but Sam did deserve to go home that challenge. It was really strange that they chose Emily over him.
Do you have a Fantasy “All Stars” Top Three?
(laughs) I would love to see Jay McCarroll, Jeffrey Sebelia and Santino. Those are my top three favorite designers. They were such interesting designers when they were on the show and I would love to see something from them again. Them going against each other would just be insane.
Did you have a favorite challenge this season?
Clearly I loved the print challenge! That was the easiest challenge for me. And the unconventional challenges I always love. They’re always my favorite just because they force you to think outside the box a little. Or a lot, rather. And that particular challenge was so strange because it was the emergency medical supplies. It was definitely one of the cooler unconventional challenges that they’ve had on the show.
Did you have a least favorite this season?
I feel like all the challenges were kind of crazy. There were naked people! That sophisticated summer woman challenge was terrible! I forgot about that, that one was terrible.
You just brought up the naturist challenge. I think that was the first time we’ve seen you on the show do a menswear look until the finale. When they threw that menswear look into the finale, did that throw a wrench in your plans at all?
No, I had done menswear before so it wasn’t this thing that intimidated me. Actually, in college I was really into menswear. At one point I wanted to be a menswear designer. I interned at a men’s fashion magazine to try and get a grasp on the industry. Clearly that didn’t happen, but it wasn’t a huge twist for me. It’s a little bit more work than doing a woman’s look because you can’t just make a dress and throw it on her. You have to actually tailor garments and it’s all about measurements and fit, but I was actually really excited about that one, that one was fun.
Going into the finale did you have a sort of strategy?
I tried to be very strategic with everything. So I spent one full day painting fabric and patterning pieces, trying to get as much patterned out as possible. And then another day of cutting fabric out, that way I knew how much yardage I had and how I could use it. I tried to be very meticulous and methodical about it. In the end, it really didn’t matter because I was still running around like a chicken with its head cut off, just due to lack of time. I did make an effort to be organized and strategic about how I executed each look.
Was there any strategy in bringing back ideas from the season?
There were things throughout the season that I felt were decidedly me and looked a lot like my aesthetic, like the use of stripes and mixing different prints together and certain silhouettes. I did want to bring those back because I personally felt that they were successful and I enjoyed seeing them walk the runway. So there were certain things that I did purposefully bring back to make this culmination of all the things I really loved about the work I did throughout the season. And then I just applied a new theme to it. I was trying to be very strategic about the types of looks that I created because four days is a really short amount of time. I really wanted everything to look cohesive, so I tried to keep a lot of the silhouettes for the shirts within the same family, and the same with the skirts and textiles. I tried to keep it very straightforward, but I did bring some things back on purpose just to have another go at it.
I know you’ve had so many celebrity judges at this point, but did you have a favorite?
I liked Megan Hilty. She was obviously very sweet, but I thought she was honest in her opinion on our looks and she had really good constructive criticism. She was such a super nice judge – very straightforward.
What are you doing next, what can we expect?
(laughs) I’m designing! I mean I’m pregnant, but I’m designing.
That’s so exciting!
I’m due in like a month. I’m super excited about it! So I’m having the baby, that’s going to happen next. And I’m working on a collection that will be out this summer, some new prints and there will be some pretty cool stuff up on my website.
Do you have a favorite look from Beyonce’s “Lemonade”?
I thought that the yellow dress was such a genius transition in that video, especially in the beginning. And that section of the album was so good. I also loved the part with all the women outside in the Victorian-esque/Elizabethan looks. And she filmed it in New Orleans, which is where my family is from, so that whole album was like, “This is just so beautiful. it looks just like New Orleans!” It made me want to travel even though I can’t. (laughs) Yeah, that was a very beautifully done album.