Last night "Project Runway" celebrated its 10th anniversary season with a party on the High Line, also unveiling “Project Your Runway,” a 20-foot-long LCD-powered virtual runway that features the show's stars Heidi Klum, Michael Kors, Nina Garcia and Tim Gunn giving real-time video reactions to spectators that pass by it.
"Project Runway" veterans including Korto Momolu, Austin Scarlett and Jay McCarroll attended, which made the event feel like a reunion of sorts. A range of designers also made appearances including Calvin Klein Creative Director Francisco Costa, Nanette Lepore and Rebecca Minkoff, who have all guest judged on the show. While Heidi Klum made showed up, longtime "Project Runway" judges Michael Kors and Nina Garcia were absent.
"Project Runway" mentor/on-air personality Tim Gunn told us his favorite moment in the show’s run is the very first episode, which aired in 2004. “We didn’t know what we were doing,” he said. “The designers didn’t know what they were doing. We took them to a grocery store and we ended up with one of the most beautiful designs—a corn husk dress of all things.”
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“It’s made the industry very accessible, very understandable," Gunn said of how he thinks the show has changed the fashion industry. "Fashion designers have told me repeatedly they love telling their families to watch 'Project Runway' so they can understand what it is they do. Before 'Project Runway' there was this veil of mystery and intrigue around the industry. It was kind of like this private club. And 'Project Runway' dared to rip the veil off of it and say, 'It doesn’t look so pretty. It can be daunting and scary.'”
Alice & Olivia designer Stacey Bendet, a guest judge on the show, said she thinks “reality TV has sort of changed the whole world."
"I don’t think it has changed the industry, but it has definitely changed people’s perceptions of the industry," she said. "There are a lot of people out there who think they can be famous overnight [because of it].”
Bendet’s advice for aspiring designers: “I think it takes a lot of hard work and focus. The advice that I always give to young designers is that you have to really know what it is that is going to set your line apart. That can be really hard to figure out.”
The 10th season of "Project Runway" premieres Thursday, July 19 at 9pm on Lifetime. The "Project Your Runway" installation is open to the public through July 19.