Fashion competition includes Karlie Kloss among its newcomers
For any changes of its makers or network, “Project Runway” remains a valuable television brand.
That’s why, after 11 rounds on Lifetime, the fashion-competition series returns to its original home – Bravo – as it begins its 17th season Thursday, March 14. A couple of its most familiar faces are missing, since Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn are developing their own show with Amazon, but judge Nina Garcia is staying. She’s joined on the panel by designer Brandon Maxwell and journalist Elaine Welteroth. Supermodel and entrepreneur Karlie Kloss hosts (and is an executive producer), and Season 4 winner Christian Siriano mentors the contestants.
“I’m very close with Tim and very close with Heidi, and they’re amazing and so talented,” Siriano says, “but I think what’s really great about this new season is that for the first time, the mentor for the designers gets to be a real designer. Tim was never a designer. He never worked in the business; he was a teacher. So, when the designers have a red carpet challenge, I can actually give them real fashion-industry feedback. And I think that it can, hopefully, only help them.
“The fashion business is hard,” adds Siriano, “so if anyone can give them advice, I would think it would be me … someone who won the show and then built something afterwards. It’s really (a matter of) what you do after the show as well, to build a brand, and you have to do that for yourself.”
The Weinstein Company was a producer of “Project Runway” for most of its run, but the program got new owners after that firm declared bankruptcy.
“I think in the industry and in the world, a lot has changed since ‘Project Runway’ first became what it became,” Kloss reasons. “I think the landscape has changed so much for how designers have to think about creating their businesses today. We all have voices and can kind of connect to, and give real-time feedback to, designers. This show is really an exciting opportunity to launch careers, and I’m excited to be a part of that.”
Guests include music star Cardi B and actress and Siriano model Danielle Brooks, and the competitors hail from locations ranging from New York and Baltimore to Colombia and Syria.
Deeming the new season “the most inclusive iteration of ‘Project Runway’” to date, former Teen Vogue editor-in-chief Welteroth says, ”What’s so wonderful about this show is the stories that are being told. It really is about human ambition. And I think at a time like this, when the world feels like it’s become very, very tumultuous from a social and political perspective, we all just need a reason to dream again.”