Project Runway’s tenth season finale airs Thursday, October 18 at 8pm on Lifetime.
German model Heidi Klum has made the fashion television show Project Runway a hit for ten seasons. After winning a modeling contest on a fluke, Klum quickly rose to stardom flying away with Victoria’s Secret’s Angel campaign and gracing the covers of many magazines such as Elle and Vogue. She has also hosted Germany’s Next Topmodel, guest-sung on several musician’s singles, and voiced many characters for movies. She has ranked as the highest paid supermodel on Forbes 15 Top-Earning Supermodels.
Klum created Project Runway (PR) along with several collaborators including Real World producers Bunim/Murray. PR originally aired on Bravo in 2004 before moving to Lifetime Television from 2009 to the present. On the show, aspiring fashion designers are encouraged to “make it work,” facing challenges and elimination each episode at Parson’s The New School for Design, before the final three designers compete with their collection at New York Fashion Week in Bryant Park. Judges Klum, designer Michael Kors, and Marie Claire fashion director Nina Garcia along with a guest judge give critical feedback for each competitor after their piece walks the runway. Faster than you can say “auf wiedersehen,” we had a little chat a while ago before saying goodbye to the tenth season of Project Runway.
Hello, Heidi. What has it been like being on Project Runway for the tenth season?
HK: It’s been amazing. It’s been ten years and we all would’ve never thought that we would make it this far. Michael [Kors] always says that we’re on longer than I Love Lucy, which we always laugh about, and I can’t believe it. Ten seasons is a milestone. And I have to tell you even though we’ve been doing it for ten seasons, I still love coming to work every season. I love being with Michael [Kors], Nina [Garcia] and Tim [Gunn]. They’re all so much fun, and we have become a family.
How do you keep things fresh after all this time?
It is always exciting to see these new designers; to see their story. They all have a different story to tell and they’re all passionate. They’re young people that come here with green eyes, not really knowing 100% what this business is about, and they’re not jaded. It’s always fun to have these people that are so hungry for it all. I don’t know; we love it. We still laugh and we sit there and have a great time. So it’s exciting and we’re proud, you know?…I love the show and I love what it’s become. We’ve got a lot of fans, and it’s become a cult; not a cult, but an iconic kind of show that people recognize.
How do you think of this group of designers compare to those of past seasons?
It’s always hard to compare because I never like to say that this season we have more talented designers than previous seasons because they were all talented. Each year fashion evolves and fashion becomes different — and so do our designers. I think we have some on this season that are not that talented and we quickly see that. We have some that are really amazing that have come up with new things; we sit there and we’re like, “Wow, we haven’t seen anything like that,” or, “You have a different technique.” [Then] there are always some designers there that aren’t that great [who] we’re hoping to be better and they just aren’t. And then there are some that blow us away and they do beautiful work in the time that they have.
Some seasons are more dramatic than others. Is this one more dramatic or more low key?
It’s also mixed. Our show is based on talent. It’s not based on having characters on. I feel like there are so many shows out there that just put people on because they look a certain way, talk in a certain way, are goofy and funny or they do a lot for show [or for] TV. I think we’ve had longevity [because fashion is the main focus of our show]. I think that’s why people appreciate what we put on the air; that it’s not about gossip, and who sleeps with whom, and who does what and who is getting on whose nerves. Obviously, when [interesting] things happen we do show some of it, but this is not what our show is based on. People in the fashion industry are very proud, and they are designers who stand behind what they make. So there’s always friction and jealousy amongst them and they think one did something better than the other. That always happens.
I noticed lots of several gay designers on this season as well a lesbian designer, Alicia, in the group. Can you talk about Gunner who didn’t make the final cut last season and your decision to bring him back?
Gunner came last year and he didn’t make it. He had this dress that confused us. It was kind of this prom-looking gown that he had, and it was just not very on trend or fashion forward. It was very Cinderella, old school, and we just did not believe in him that much. I think he grew in that year and [he] showed us that he evolved as a designer, so we wanted to give him [another] shot….We like it when they prove us wrong; that they’re better than expected. He’s a fun guy, and he deserves to be here.
What has been your most awkward moment when filming Project Runway?
Well for me a lot of the times I would make my outfits too short ,and then I have to sit in the director’s chairs. [I would] literally have to tell the cameraman to please [film] me from the waist up because no matter how I cross my legs my dress is always too short. Michael is like, “Put your cards on your lap. Put your cards on lap.” But that is for me, personally, one of my awkward moments.
You did a Project Runway book signing in New York. Would you ever do one in Chicago?
It is not my book. I wrote a little bit for it and there are definitely some of my stories in there, but [it’s] the show’s book and someone else wrote the book. I was very excited that they asked me if I would go to Barnes & Nobles and sign a little bit, but I’m not going to go on a book tour.
There are Project Runways in various parts of the world such as Argentina. I was wondering if you have ever considered doing an international all-stars like you did last season, or bringing some of the elements of international versions to the main Project Runway?
Maybe that is something we can do after this season is over. Maybe we can incorporate other countries or maybe go to other countries. For me it is hard to go — you mean for me to go to Argentina and other places?
You could bring the internal all-stars participants or the winners from different Project Runways to compete.
I think that is a great idea. We should definitely do something like that. To have a Project Runway winner from Argentina or from Germany or from Italy, all those winners, to bring them together and do an all-stars. Then all the country’s winners can fight with each other. Who is the best designer?