Project Runway, the reality competition series that’s unspooled the secrets of the fashion-industry sausage factory to millions of sartorially minded fans for over a decade, is returning to its original home on Bravo this season — but it’s back with significant cast changes. Fashion designer Brandon Maxwell and former Teen Vogue editor Elaine Welteroth are joining tenured Project Runway cast member Nina Garcia in the judges’ seats. As for mentor Tim Gunn and host Heidi Klum? They’ve been replaced, respectively, with Über-successful season-four winner Christian Siriano and model Karlie Kloss.
Even among all those new faces, the loss of the cool, collected and bespectacled Gunn stings most. How will the new Project Runway, ahem, make it work without him?
“What’s really great about this season is that, for the first time, the mentor for the designers gets to be a designer,” Siriano said during the show’s Television Critics Association press day on Tuesday in Pasadena. “Tim was never a designer. He never worked in the business. He was a teacher. When the designers have a red-carpet challenge, I can actually give them real feedback because I’d just dressed people at the Golden Globes the week before. I’m giving them real, fashion-industry feedback that can, hopefully, only help them.”
Siriano added that, while he is still close with Gunn and that he thinks his predecessor was great in that role, “It’s really what you do after the show as well to build a brand.”
So, is Siriano planning his very own catchphrase? He knows that his old one hasn’t aged well, and he told Vulture that fans will have to see what kind of magic the Bravo editors work, but he does say “You’re killing me!” a lot.