Dom Streater, Project Runway Winner and West Philly Native, Tells All

What really happens in the work room.

Project-RunwayPhilly native and Moore College of Art & Design grad, Dom Streater, stole the show on October 17th with her Project Runway win. The 24-year-old former hostess was a competitor from the get-go, favoring retro-cum-feminine pieces that caught the eye of Heidi Klum—as well as her fellow contestants. Shoppist got a chance to talk to Streater today about what happened behind the scenes (think people warring over sewing machines), Tim Gunn’s god-like presence, and her fall/winter ’14 collection.

Oh, and Samuel L. Jackson.

Shoppist: First off, congratulations! Did you have any hesitations auditioning for a reality show?

Dom Streater: Absolutely. I never really wanted to do Project Runway because it was on TV. I’m super, super private and it made me a little uncomfortable to have my whole entire life on TV. A couple months after I graduated, I applied. I was a finalist for seasons 10 and 11 [Editor’s note: both seasons were cast at once] and was cast as an alternate. Then this year they asked me to apply again.

S: How much one-on-one time did you really have with Tim Gunn?

DS: Tim is always there. People don’t realize that even when he shuts the door, he’s still there. He doesn’t leave Parsons. If we ever had a really serious question, he would answer it.

S: It was really interesting to see him defend the integrity of the show so fervently in the reunion episode.

DS: It’s very easy to think the show is rigged or whatever because there were a lot of really shitty coincidences.

S: Do you have an example of that?

DS: Like, “Oh my gosh, how did Miranda and Timothy, and Alexandria and Ken end up on a team together [for the partner challenge]?” [Editor’s note: These designers were in a near-constant feud.] It really was a shitty coincidence. We saw them pull the names out of the bag. If you met the crew and all the people that worked behind the scenes, including Tim Gunn, the show is not scripted.  They’re so loyal to what they do.

S: What got on your nerves the most during the show?

DS: I used to get so angry in the beginning when there were 15 or 16 of us and the sewing machines would break all the time. You’d be sewing on the machine, go into the break room, and come back and the machines would be unthreaded. That was my biggest pet peeve! Later, we started claiming machines so we wouldn’t have to worry about someone using ours.

S: It looked like a lot of the designers regretted their behavior after watching the show.

DS: That’s exactly what I didn’t want. There’s life after Project Runway. It’s just a small part of my life. I didn’t want it to be debilitating to my career. That’s not smart, especially because I didn’t get a chance to work in fashion after college. I was hostessing at Silk City, and I was also doing animal care at the University of Pennsylvania during the day. For me, I really needed to use this to get into the industry.

S: Where are your favorite places to shop in Philly?

DS: I love to shop at Fabric Row; they’re all family-owned businesses. Once you’re there they all know you. I also really love to thrift. I recently found a Diane von Furstenberg lace top. I shop at Philly AIDS Thrift and Retrospect Vintage on South Street. I did go to Sal Val but it’s not there anymore.

S: Do you plan to stay in Philly?

DS: I do intend to live here. I love the city, not just because I grew up here. It reminds me a lot of New York but on a less chaotic scale. I’m hopeful to start a business here. I’m working on my fall/winter ’14 collection now. Hopefully, I can have that picked up and in the next one or two years get a brick-and-mortar [in Philadelphia], and expand to other places like New York.

S: Where can we purchase your designs?

DS: I will be putting up more designs on my website in November. I will also be selling designs at the PMA craft show in November.

S: Did you get any interesting congratulatory shout-outs?

DS: Samuel L. Jackson. His wife told him I should have been winning every week. It was very cool. He reached out to me over Twitter and I called his wife. They’re so insanely nice; it’s ridiculous.

S: Any others?

DS: Nothing too crazy just yet. I have a feeling this Samuel L. Jackson bit is just the beginning.