Project Runway is one of the most popular American reality TV series around. It focuses on the world of fashion design and was conceptualized by Eli Holzman in partnership with Heidi Klum.

The show has had two main networks over the years – Bravo broadcast the first five seasons before it was moved to Lifetime for 11 subsequent seasons. The show consists of a panel of designers who fight for the winner’s spot with one contestant being eliminated each week.

Heidi Klum was recently replaced by Karlie Kloss as the new host and Christian Siriano replaced Tim Gunn as the new mentor. The show has achieved great success and it continues to be one of the most popular reality TV shows.


Project Runway makes use of a progressive elimination method, where 12 designers are pitted against each other in a number of contests before the final challenge. All non-finale challenges test the diversity and skills of fashion designers who are capable of producing the best design aesthetics in the industry.

The challenges often include fashion designing, interior designing and other interesting tasks. Each episode revolves around a unique theme and contestants have to stick to the theme to produce the best designs they can with limited resources available at their disposal.

The designers are assigned a specific budget and are restricted in terms of the concepts and fabrics they can use. The time-constrained tasks offer a sense of urgency, adding to the appeal of the show. Most of the challenges are to be undertaken solo, but there have been episodes where designers are paired with each other for team-oriented tasks.

A judge is often assisted by a guest on the show to judge and choose the best designs. Elimination episodes see one contestant being removed from the show. Immunity challenge episodes offer contestants immunity from being eliminated. Internet usage is also restricted and designers are not allowed to consult any resources for inspiration.

The last three contestants are given multiple tasks that are presented at New York Fashion Week. One winner is selected, who takes home the grand prize. The winner is awarded $100,000, mentorship and a feature spread.

Cast and characters 

Notable members of the Project Runway team include Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn, Karlie Kloss, Rachel Roy, Brandon Maxwell, Zac Posen and Michael Kors. The show also features guest hosts who come on special episodes to judge the contestants.

Filming locations

Multiple seasons were initially filmed at Parsons School of Design, part of The New School in New York City. The designers usually shop at the Garment District in New York City unless the challenge specifies a different location.

With the network changing to Lifetime, all of the filming locations were moved from NYC to LA before the show returned to NYC permanently in season 7.


The show was originally produced by The Weinstein Company, who announced a 5-year deal with Lifetime. From season 6, NBC Universal came into a legal dispute with The Weinstein Company which prevented further seasons from being promoted or aired indefinitely.

The lawsuit between the production giants was resolved in 2019, which enabled the show to resume. Season 6 of the show continued airing from August 2009, during which time NBC gained part-ownership of Lifetime.

With The Weinstein Company falling into bankruptcy, NBC earned the rights to the show. The show was eventually acquired by Lantern Entertainment. It was then rebooted, with popular host Heidi Klum being replaced by Karlie Kloss. Tim Gunn left the show as well and was replaced by Christian Siriano.

The new judges on the revamped show include Brandon Maxwell, Elaine Welterworth and former judge Nina Garcia.

Episodes and reception

The original seasons of the show were very well received  – but after fans heard that the show was undergoing a complete reboot, with Karlie Kloss replacing Heidi Klum, they were displeased. That said, Bravo TV did manage to complete a successful reboot of the show overall.

The show continues to draw in millions of viewers globally and it is commonly regarded as one of the top reality TV shows. In recent years, the title has taken on a more diverse approach. In doing so, it has successfully reinvented the core concept which made the original Project Runway so successful.

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