Why “Project Runway” Judges Are Giving Fan-Favorite Past Contestants Another Chance


While there are many fashion-based reality shows, we can never forget the series that changed the game forever – “Project Runway.” In 2004, the program, presented by Bravo, was “created to break the mold,” in the words of longstanding judge Nina Garcia. Nearly 20 years later, the Emmy Award-winning series continues to capture our attention with unconventional challenges that inspire independent designers to hone their craft – and launch their careers into the stratosphere. “‘Project Runway’ came in and was an unexpected success from day one, but it brought an inclusivity to the industry and opened the door to getting a glimpse of what was, back then, a very closed and cliquey industry,” Garcia tells POPSUGAR. “It really helped to herald a new way of looking at fashion and giving designers a real chance.”

Some of today’s most prominent designers have appeared on the show, including perennial fan-favorite Christian Siriano. The youngest winner of the show ever, Siriano went on to achieve tremendous success in the industry, becoming a mainstay on the New York Fashion Week runway and a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America. He’s also returned to the show as a judge, along with Garcia, celebrity-favorite designer Brandon Maxwell, and New York Times bestselling author and journalist Elaine Welteroth. Other guest judges include Image Architect Law Roach, designer Sergio Hudson, and CFDA CEO Steven Kolb.

Now, the powerhouse judges are gearing up for their most anticipated season yet. In celebration of the show’s 20th anniversary, 14 of the most beloved designers from past seasons are returning, including Brittany Allen, Fabio Costa, Bishme Cromartie, and Kara Saun. And their objective, over the course of the season, is to further discover their strengths and nurture them. “We want these designers to lean into who the hell they are, not who we think they are, not who the world expects them to be,” Welteroth says. “Our job as judges is to get to know them through their work, really start to understand, to see and help them lean into where they shine.”

Ahead, Garcia, Welteroth, and Maxwell open up about the upcoming season, their hope for fan-favorite past contestants, and their advice for the next generation of fashion designers. Keep reading for the full interview, and set a reminder for the two-part premiere of Bravo’s “Project Runway All-Stars” season 20, airing on Thursday, June 15, at 8 p.m. ET.

Related: See Where Your Favorite “Project Runway” Contestants Are Now

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