"It’s an evolution, not a revolution," exec producer Jane Lipsitz says of the overhauled fashion competition Project Runway.
Ahead of the 17th season, which moves back to Bravo with some new faces after 11 cycles on Lifetime, Lipsitz explains how the new iteration will "make it work" — to borrow a phrase from former designer mentor Tim Gunn — on the network where it all started.
Season 17 is filled with unbridled talent.
1. Fresh Points of View
While the formula won't change (16 designers construct clothes and compete for a cash prize), the experts have. Original host Heidi Klum and Gunn are out. Filling their fashionable shoes, respectively, are supermodel Karlie Kloss and Season 4 champ Christian Siriano . "There's definitely a millennial perspective," Lipsitz says of the fresh blood. And the contestants will benefit from Siriano's mentorship in more ways than one, she explains. "He's a former contestant, so he understands what the designers are going through."
2. A New Look
Leaving New York's Parsons School of Design, in Manhattan, where many previous seasons were filmed, presented the opportunity to create a new workroom in a funkier part of town. "We wanted to embrace the feeling of a warehouse in Brooklyn," Lipsitz says of the set. "A lot of fashion is moving to Brooklyn, so we wanted to feel connected to the industry."
'Everything is different,' says Siriano. 'The social media challenges [and] the cultural things we talk about are really important.'
3. More Inclusivity
"Our cast is extremely diverse," says Lipsitz. Among the women who will walk the runway in the contestants' clothes are full-figured models and the show's first-ever transgender model. And Lipsitz promises a season that is more engaged with the world than ever. "Designers and fashion have always been representative to what's happening culturally, socially and politically," she says. "We've embraced that conversation."
Project Runway, Season Premiere, Thursday, March 14, 8/7c, Bravo