(Courtesy Tracy Leeds for A+E Networks)

Meet the Bay Area Designers of Project Runway Season 15

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Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum fans, get ready for a fresh dose of "make it work" and "you're out!" catchphrases: The new class of Project Runway designers hits the small screen this week.

Season 15 of the Lifetime reality series features three new Bay Area contestants whom we'll be rooting for as they're, no doubt, tasked with making gorgeous-ness out of garbage, forced to work in dysfunctional teams, and make mad fabric dashes through Mood (hi, Swatch).



In preparation for the big premiere on Thursday, September 15, we decided to gather some intel on our talented homies by throwing a slew of fashionable questions at them. Introducing Alex Snyder, Jenni Riccetti and Dexter Simmons...in their own words.


Good luck, designers!


Bespectacled Alex Snyder chatting up his Bay Area buddy Dexter Simmons.(Courtesy Barbara Nitke for A+E Networks)

ALEX SNYDER, AGE 31

Bay Area roots

I was born in Boston. Grew up in Boca Raton, Florida, and the majority of my career was in New York City. Now, I'm settled in beautiful San Francisco. I've lived here for the last four years—currently, I'm living in Hayes Valley, which I love because it is central to all the places I really enjoy going to. Thank you, San Francisco for being such an incredible city!


Design school

I received my Bachelors and Masters of Fine Art at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. I also received the title of Business Scholar through the Babson College and Goldman Sachs' 10KSB Initiative (Ten Thousand Small Businesses) program in Boston. It's the best of both worlds to be trained in business and creative studies.


Design aesthetic

My design aesthetic is modern tailoring with a touch of dark, elegant whimsy. I love the ability to mix and match, and design great prints and timeless silhouettes that have a touch of edginess to them. I have always been inspired by strong confident women and have been surrounded by them my entire life. As a designer, I want women to feel beautiful and be able to make my pieces their own.


Personal style

Basic/classic. I don't wear a lot of designer clothes, and I don't want to be overwhelmed by what I'm wearing. Button-downs, v-necks, pants are usually what you'll catch me in. Also, I only wear black. As someone with ADD, color used to distract me—and still does. I love designing with color, just not wearing it.


Where to buy your designs

My line [A.M.S.] is a bit newer for San Francisco, though it does sell a lot on the East Coast. We have an e-commerce shop at amsatelier.com, with the entire collection. We manufacture everything inside the atelier, so we are San Francisco-made and proud!


Why Project Runway

One night, my friends from grad school and I were talking and thought it would be fun if we all applied. It was exciting to think that we might all end up on it together. Well, I submitted on the last day, and the day after my friends all told me they forgot to submit. I guess the rest is history.


Describe the PR experience

It was way beyond what I thought it would be, in the absolute best of ways. For me— someone who had a business, team/staff, and is managing all of that every day—it was so exciting to have this experience. The judges are wonderful and gracious about feedback and advice. Tim is simply incredible, and the crew was amazing. Living with strangers was horrifying at first, but the bond you leave with is incredible. The time constraints were insane, much more then I thought. But I was there to have fun, put my best foot forward and roll with the punches.


Favorites designers from seasons' past

Jay, from season one. I have always admired his vision and will never forget his runway show. Mondo, I mean, who doesn't love him? His ability to mix and match prints and textures was really inspiring to me. Also, Justin LaBlanc, who is incredibly inspiring and has an awesome design aesthetic. Uli Herzner, who I think is an amazing designer with an aesthetic I really appreciate, growing up in South Florida. Lastly, Dom Streater, who is a wizard at what she does and captivating in her execution.


Local coffee

Philz, hands down. Ether blend—large, no milk or sugar.


Favorite/least favorite thing about SF

Favorite: The food. I could eat my way around the city. Least: The hills. Though scenic to look at, they are a constant reminder that I need to return to a gym routine.


Future plans

Grow my company and continue to showcase locally made products. Maybe take a honeymoon at one point or another. Continue to teach and inspire students. Who knows what's next? I'm really enjoying the ride I am on now. Though I would love to collaborate with tech companies and develop smart apparel—maybe some day.


Jenni Riccetti having fun (presumably) in the Project Runway workroom.(Courtesy Barbara Nitke for A+E Networks)

JENNI RICCETTI, AGE 22

Bay Area roots

I was born and raised in SF and never left! I live in the Glen Park neighborhood now.


Design school

Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM)


Design aesthetic

Clean, modern, smooth. I design for the minimalist.


Personal style

Street. Lots of gold. Distressed denim. And NUDE, NUDE, NUDE.


Go-to uniform

Some dope kicks with a monochromatic shirt-and-pant combo.


Where to buy your designs

Online at riccetticlothing.com and a consignment shop in the Mission called Artillery Apparel Gallery.


Why Project Runway

I hadn't gotten a job I hoped for, so I decided to try Project Runway. I was finally old enough!


Describe the PR experience

The experience is more then words can describe. It is one I will forever cherish.


Local shopping

Haight, Valencia, Mission, my sewing studio— I make a lot of my own clothes.


Eats and drinks

Trattoria da Vittorio for some bomb-ass Italian food, Gino and Carlo in North Beach for a rocking cocktail and a great game of pool, Bernal Star for yummy brunch and Taqueria Vallarta for fresh tacos—hella bomb.


Favorite thing about SF

I love the diversity and culture. I love all my local friends and the fact that my family has made a history here. This is the city my grandfather came to, all the way from Italy, to start a new life and to give future generations better opportunities.


Future plans

Build my fashion career, expand my inspiration, and never stop creating.


Whatcha looking at Oaktown designer/sewer Dexter Simmons?(Courtesy Barbara Nitke for A+E Networks)

DEXTER SIMMONS, AGE 33

Bay Area roots

I am born and raised in the Bay Area and have always called it home. Right now I live in Oakland. I have done small stints in NYC and LA.


Design school

I went to FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising).


Design aesthetic

My design aesthetic is kinda like a '90s mood ring. It just depends on how I'm feeling.


Current job

I have designed for a lot of musicians but currently I'm a designer for a technical-cashmere brand called Kit and Ace. I'm a bit of a freelance artist so I'm always designing and styling for different magazines and artists.


Where to buy your designs

I have a shirt line coming out soon at dextersimmons.com and also at Wonderland in the Mission. I'm @DexterFlawk on social media.


Personal style

Leather, T.U.K. creepers, denim, distressed, vintage. My go-to uniform is rock-n-roll meets Union Square with a dash of magic.


Why Project Runway

I didn't apply. I got an email about it, and I was in a period of my life where I was bored with work. I thought: why not? I can be a bit reclusive with mainstream fashion but it just felt right.


Describe the PR experience

It was not at all what I expected, and it's not something I can really explain. It's very stressful, but at times, very validating. One could call it an emotional roller-coaster ride.


Fashion designer heros/icons

Grace Jones and Prince come first. Adam Ant and Peaches Christ are up there. I'm a big fan of Hood by Air and Jeremy Scott.


Local shopping

I shop a lot at Wasteland, Wonderland, Painted Bird, Dolls Kill and Azalea. Neighborhoods: I love Haight Street but the Mission is still one of my favorite areas in the city. Sometimes I shop in Hayes Valley and Union Square, too.


Local coffee

Ritual coffee is just the best!


Describe SF style

SF style is too eclectic to be described without breaking down all the different social groups. It's a hub city so everyone is from everywhere. You can really wear almost anything here and that's why I have always enjoyed living here.


Least favorite thing about SF

The lack of legit fashion shows kinda kills me. When I first started fashion in SF there were more risk takers as far as magazines, ads and streetwear. I miss that.


Future plans

I'm starting to plan shows with Veronica Kerzner of Style Fashion Week, shooting with as many music artists as possible and selling my new t-shirt line.

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