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'Project Runway' eliminated designer: Alyssa Milano 'was pretty hard on me'

Nov. 8, 2013 at 4:16 PM ET

Image: Melissa Fleis
David Russell / Lifetime
The judges didn't like Melissa Fleis' design, but she was proud of it.

Melissa Fleis was a standout on “Project Runway” season 10, but the San Francisco-based designer became the third “All Star” voted off the show Thursday after she failed to impress the judges during a cocktail-inspired challenge. 

The sometimes hard criticism from the judges certainly brought her down a bit, but Fleis told TODAY that host/judge Alyssa Milano was simply confusing with her comments.

“I thought she was pretty hard on me all three weeks,” Fleiss said. “I was receiving such mixed messages (from her), which is what really threw me. In the avant-garde challenge, she referenced my leather vest from my first challenge and told me I should have done something like that. But the thing is, she didn’t even really like it during that first challenge! I didn’t understand where she was coming from at all.

“I think it was pretty clear that she had already picked her favorite (designers) from the very beginning,” Fleis added.

The designer, who finished season 10 in third place, said she wasn't expecting to go home so soon.

“I was kind of shocked,” Fleis said. “I was content with the dress, and I knew that I didn’t have the worst look on the runway that night. My model told me that all of the other models loved my dress.”

Fleis’ cocktail dress landed her in the bottom three because the judges felt they had seen her do the same design during her previous season.

I was very happy with it,” she said. “I did tweak my style a lot for this design and I’ve never used that suede or those crazy colors before. It may look similar but it’s certainly not the same. When you look at what the other designers (did), I don’t think all of them went outside of their boxes either.”

While Fleis found the “All Star” experience very different from her first time on the show, she has not changed much since season 10. Known for her onscreen meltdowns, Fleis said that it’s the combination of her passionate personality and the pressures of the challenges that often brought her to tears during her two seasons of the show.

“I am definitely a sensitive person in my regular life,” she said. “I think it collides with being on camera and with the time constraints. It can really turn me into my own worst enemy. I definitely over-think things and doubt myself. I think many artists do that.”

While Fleis’ “Project Runway” days are over, she said she has a lot to look forward to.

“I’ve had my fill (of reality TV),” she said. “I think it’s time to build my brand. My leather jackets are currently on display at the Museum of Craft and Design. I have just finished my spring/summer 2014 collection and that will be in stores very soon. I have so many exciting things happening for me. “

"Project Runway All Stars" airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on Lifetime.

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