In its long lifetime, “Project Runway” has kept bouncing around.
It’s gone from Bravo to Lifetime and back to Bravo. It’s escaped the ownership of Harvey Weinstein. It’s changed hosts and mentors and more.
It even dumped the original producers … then put them back in charge. “We keep saying, ‘It’s like getting your baby back,” Jane Lipsitz said.
Except, of course, that babies are never the same after 14 years and 17 TV seasons.
Elaine Welteroth, one of the new judges, sees the new version of the fashion-design competition as “the most inclusive iteration of ‘Project Runway’ the world has ever seen.” The models are varied in size, the designers are varied in age, both are varied in race and roots.
This is also the youngest version. Consider:
— Karlie Kloss, 26, the new host. She recalls being a “Runway” fan at 11. That was long before she became a teen-aged Victoria’s Secret model (and, later, Ivanka Trump’s sister-in-law).
— Christian Siriano, 33, the show’s new mentor. At 22, he became the fourth “Runway” champion.
— Brandon Maxwell, 34, one of the judges. When “Runway” started, he was a college student “from the smallest town ever,” he said, and he was “watching the show religiously.”
Well, Longview – an East Texas city of 80,000 — isn’t nearly the smallest ever. “I need to really quit saying that,” Maxwell said. But it felt tiny and distant, compared to the New York fashion world.
“I’m somebody who still doesn’t understand which fork to use when you are at one of those fancy dinners,” Maxwell said. “I really latched onto this show and it was an educational tool for me.”
Kloss remembers that feeling as an 11-year-old in suburban St. Louis, with “no access to the city.”
As it happened, she had the right advantages. Like Ivanka Trump, she is tall (6-foot-1 1/2), from a comfortable family (her parents are a doctor and an art director) and married to a Kushner. (Joshua, Jared’s younger brother). And now she’s a “Runway” host.
That comes after turmoil. After five seasons on Bravo, “Runway” jumped to Lifetime amid lawsuits. (Weinstein, whose company owned the show, ended up paying a settlement.) Lifetime put Bunim-Murray (the “Real World” people) in charge, replacing Magical Elves (Lipsitz and Dan Cutforth).
Then came the recent flurry: Lifetime cancelled the show, after sex-abuse charges against Weinstein …. whose company was bought in bankruptcy by a new company … which returned “Runway” to Bravo …. which brought back Magical Elves. Also, Klum and Gunn left for Amazon … and Lipsitz and Cutforth said they’re leaving Elves (which they sold), but will continue with “Runway.”
“Runway” has had a wild ride … but it’s basically the show Kloss watched at 11. “It’s this incredible platform to launch designers’ careers,” she said.
Including the career of Siriano, who will mentor the contestants. “If anyone can give them advice,” he said, “I think it would be me – someone who won the show and then built something.”
— “Project Runway,” 8-9:30 p.m. Thursdays, Bravo; rerunning at 11:30.
— Season-opener (March 14) reruns often, including 2:18 p.m. Friday (March 15), 5:48 p.m. Saturday, 8 p.m. Sunday and 6:30 p.m. March 21.
— This is the 17th season; “Runway” began 14-plus years ago, but has doubled up in some years.
— Meanwhile, “Project Runway All-Stars” is in its final weeks, Wednesdays on Lifetime.