Angela Swartz/Daily Journal
Project Runway runner up Alexandria von Bromssen in her shop Red Square Boutique in San Mateo.
Placing second on Project Runway, San Mateo’s Alexandria von Bromssen’s phone has been ringing off the hook since the season finale of the fashion designer competition last Thursday.
The experience was crazy and intense for von Bromssen, who participated in 13 challenges and said she averaged four hours of sleep per night during the six weeks of filming of the Lifetime network television show. Overall, the show brought her out of her comfort zone though and has helped her designs stand out on a national scale.
“I have 200 orders in my pocket off of things people saw on the show,” said von Bromssen, 38. “I cried a lot when I saw the show and stopped watching it early on. Now it’s very different since the phones are now ringing.”
The crying was caused by what she describes as television portraying her in the wrong way, as a very cold and standoffish character. She competed against 16 other contestants.
“I wore platforms and was really quiet and America hated me,” said von Bromssen, who runs a fashion collective on Palm Avenue and sewing lessons for children under the name Camp Couture.
The environment of the show was her biggest challenge. She got shingles because her immune system was weakened by the lack of sunlight and long hours. Von Bromssen describes the show as almost like being at war.
“You have to go make things under [tough] conditions,” von Bromssen said. “It’s like the runway games. I was tougher. When you’re 6 feet 5 inches [with heels on] no one will f— with you. I should have played harder.”
She left her business ventures for four months and used her savings to keep things afloat when she was gone. She returned to New York City for the season finale competition in early September, which coincided with New York Fashion Week.
“I was bleeding [financially],” von Bromssen said. “I thought I would win. I really did gamble everything by going on the show.”
Would she do it again?
“I don’t know yet,” she said. “My friends say wait a year and you’ll see. They’d have to pay me a lot of money.”
Moving forward, von Bromssen wants to open a second store in San Francisco and expand Camp Couture. Further, she is interested in an investor helping her move her design work and business along.
The designer has been visiting marketplaces to ask for advice on her work. Other boutique owners and buyers go to the marketplaces. A small collection of her work, with about 10 to 15 looks should be released in February 2014 and another this summer.
Prior to her time as a designer, von Bromssen attended New York University, receiving a degree in business, after switching from majoring in biology. She went on to get a master’s in fine arts from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco after losing her job following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Art school was “never a viable” option for her when she was applying for undergraduate schools.
In her spare time, she runs and was a model for five years of her youth as well.
Philadelphia designer Dom Streater came away with first place on the reality television show and will receive $150,000 in prize money to launch her inaugural collection and a Lexus.
For more information about von Bromssen’s store, visit redsquareboutique.com and to learn about her Camp Couture workshops, visit thecampcouture.com. This was the 12th season of the show, which was formerly on the Bravo network.
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