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Exclusive: 'Project Runway' winner Dom Streater talks about her victory (Part 1)


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 10/18/2013 

Project Runway crowned Dom Streater its twelfth-season winner during Thursday night's finale broadcast of the Lifetime fashion design competition. 
 
Dom, a 24-year-old from Philadelphia, PA, was chosen as the winner of the competition by judges Heidi Klum, Nina Garcia, Zac Posen, and guest judge Kerry Washington in addition to the input provided by the contestants' mentor Tim Gunn. Alexandria von Bromssen finished as the runner-up, Justin LeBlanc finished third, and fourth place went to Bradon McDonald.

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Dom won with her collection entitled "Retro Redux," which she unveiled during Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week. The designer explained her collection was inspired by the idea of the future being viewed by artists and writers pre-1960s. It had a very "retro-Judy Jetson" feel to it and she designed all the prints herself featuring bold colors such as magenta, dark blue and black.

In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Friday, Dom talked about her Project Runway experience and victory. Below is the first half. Check back with us soon for the concluding portion.

Reality TV World: You seemed very confident in your collection going into Fashion Week. Justin noted you were his biggest competition, and Bradon admitted he was surprised Tim Gunn even had any criticism or suggestions regarding your final collection. So it sounds like everyone kind of pegged you to be the winner from the get-go. Did you feel that way? Did you feel like you had it in the bag?

Dom Streater: I mean, I never wanted to go into it overly confident and just assuming that I would win, but I loved what I created. I really, really loved my collection. And I was very confident in what I designed. I mean, but I will admit that the competition this season is incredibly steep, like there were a lot of incredibly talented designers that were there.

So, I agree with Tim when he said that it was anyone's game, because I really did not know who was going to win! I really had no idea where it was going to go. But I mean, I loved what I did and I was incredibly confident going into the runway show, and I'm just glad that the judges saw that and it paid off.

Reality TV World: Obviously the finale filmed several weeks ago, so is it safe to assume you quit your two jobs after the show -- or at least one of them -- and started to dedicate all your time to fashion designing? 

Dom Streater: I did quit my day job, which is awesome! (Laughs) I do still work at night occasionally, like "occasionally occasionally." But yeah, I'm mostly designing now, which is awesome. I'm working on a fall/winter collection for next year, so I'm glad that I'm able to like just wake up in the morning and [design]. It's like the best feeling ever!

Reality TV World: Did Justin and/or Bradon ever let you know they found you to be their biggest competition or did that come as a surprise to you watching last night's episode back?

Dom Streater: Yeah that actually did come as a surprise to me. I'm not sure anyone ever admitted face-to-face who they thought their competition was. But yeah, they never told me that. I was like, "Oh my gosh!" There's so many things that I heard or saw last night that I was like, "Oh my gosh, I can't believe it!" Because they didn't say that to me and I was very shocked, but it felt good.

Reality TV World: From your standpoint, who were you most worried about? Who did you see as being the top person to beat?

Dom Streater: I always, always, always thought [Helen Castillo] was my biggest competition from the beginning. And then when she was out, I kind of thought that Justin was my biggest competition because he makes really, really great clothing and they're beautiful -- beautifully-made clothes. So I was thinking, like, he was the one to beat.

Reality TV World: On the topic of Helen, you said at the beginning of last night's finale you were shocked the judges didn't like her three pieces. So did you think she actually deserved one of the four spots to show her collection at New York Fashion Week, and if so, why?

Dom Streater: Yeah, I always thought that Helen should've been there. It's not that I don't love Alexandria or anything like that, but I don't think that her collection was strong enough to show at Fashion Week. And I'm not quite sure what the judges saw -- they saw something obviously in her, but I'm not exactly sure why they chose her over Helen.

I really don't understand that. But I mean, it is what it is and there's nothing I can do about it now. But I always thought that Helen should've been there. I really do think that she deserved that chance to be showing.

Reality TV World: It kind of appeared as if Alexandria was set on winning the competition. I don't recall her talking much about how much competition she was going to face. What vibe did you get from Alexandria? Did you get the feeling she thought she was on top?

Dom Streater: No, actually, Alexandria is very -- she is very cerebral about everything. She likes to think and overanalyze everything, and she's a worrier. So I was very shocked to see how she was during the finale -- how, I guess, confident -- if that's the word -- she was. Because she wasn't like that before, throughout the competition.

She was always very worried. Like we always had to talk to her and things like that, because she was a worrier! She's a worry-wart. I was very shocked how confident she came across in the finale, because she was not like that before at all.

Reality TV World: When the panel deliberated who should win Project Runway, Zac Posen said it's amazing how you use your textile background in your designing and he didn't even think you were aware of how sophisticated you really are. What was your reaction when you saw him say that last night or had he said something similar to you directly that viewers didn't get to see?

Dom Streater: No! That was the first time I had heard that and it was amazing. I mean, I respect them so much, like Heidi, Nina and Zac, because they are -- in their own fields -- leaders at what they do. So I was very, very much like, "Oh my gosh, I can't believe she said that!" It felt very good to hear that. It was just crazy. I was like, "Oh my God, thank you!" (Laughs)

But I do agree with him, because I feel like I never really had a chance to spread my wings fully until I was in the competition because I had never had that time to design full-time or anything like that. So being able to be in the competition and have that carte blanche to be able to design whatever I want, I think I grew more in those six weeks filming than I did in the past three years being out of school.

Reality TV World: Nina Garcia said the one thing she wished you had changed was starting off your collection with the transparent coat and purple jumpsuit. How do you feel about that? Looking back, would you agree or disagree with that critique?

Dom Streater: I disagree. I did plan the order in which the garments went down the runway like very, very carefully. And we did talk about it on the runway. They didn't show it though, like Nina and I did discuss that on the runway.

But I wanted to make sure that the order I was showing things in kind of like alternated, so that's why I started out with the print. And plus, I am known for print, so I didn't want to start off with a print on the runway.

But yeah, I definitely planned that order out very, very strategically. And you know, to me, I don't think it should've been the other way. But I mean, from an editorial point of view, I can understand why she said it, because the outfit really is like a statement in its own. So I understand why she said it.

Reality TV World: Zac Posen said he could've done without the bathing suit in your collection although he admitted it was fine and served as a fun teaser. What are your thoughts on that? Would you replace the bathing suit with another look if you could go back and totally perfect your 10-piece collection for that runway show?

Dom Streater: Um, I don't think that I would! (Laughs)

Reality TV World: Fair enough! (Laughs)

Dom Streater: I love my bathing suit. I mean, I loved it. I loved the idea. I loved the cover-up that went with it. I had a lot of fun. I wanted the range in my pieces, and I mean, were there garments that I wish I could've added in the show? Absolutely. I wish I could've done many more than 10 looks! But I loved the swimsuit.

I mean, the judges, the nature of it is that you're not going to be able to appease everyone. So it's just one of those things that someone is always not going to like one thing that you did, and it is what it is. I love the swimsuit though. That was one of my favorite pieces.

Reality TV World: You received a huge prize package this season. Which of all the prizes were you most excited about or most looking forward to?

Dom Streater: The trip to the Maldives! (Laughs) I haven't had a real vacation in like, I can't even tell you, like 10 years maybe I haven't actually had a real vacation where I've gotten on a plane and gone somewhere.

I have mini-vacations, like I go camping a lot just because I live in Pennsylvania and I'm close to woods. So I go camping a lot because it's super fast to get there and it's super cheap, but I have not had a real vaca. So I'm so excited to be able to get on a plane and just relax and be on a beach and not have to worry about anything!

Reality TV World: Are you going to try to take advantage of that trip really soon? Have you set a date?

Dom Streater: If they let me, yeah! (Laughs) It's like, sweet Jesus I would totally go [tomorrow]. There's a whole lot I still don't know in terms of like prizes and everything that I've won. I'm still discussing everything with the producers, so I'm not sure when certain things will happen because it's still all under discussion. But hopefully I will be able to go on that trip soon, because I'd really, really like to go!

Above is the first half of Dom's exclusive interview with Reality TV World. Check back with us soon for the concluding portion.

(Photo credit Lifetime)


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