Project Runway season 17 premieres tonight. In addition to the new cast of 16 designer competitors, the show’s move from the Lifetime network to Bravo brings with it a new panel of judges and a new host, supermodel Karlie Kloss. This season’s judges are Christian Siriano, Nina Garcia, Elaine Welteroth, and Brandon Maxwell.
International supermodel Karlie Kloss rose to fame as one of the Victoria’s Secret angels. Though she no longer models for the lingerie and fitness wear brand, she continues to shoot campaigns and walk runways for top fashion designers. In addition to modeling and now hosting Project Runway, she founded her company “Kode With Klossy” to host coding classes and offer scholarships to young women across the US.
This season’s contestants bring diverse personalities, backgrounds, and expertise to the show. Here are the 16 designers competing in season 17:
Afa Ah Loo
Afa Ah Loo was raised in Samoa and found an interest in sewing in his school’s home economics class. He is a self-taught designer who calls his aesthetic “sweetly bold.”
Rakan Shams Aldeen
Rakan Shams Aldeen studied architecture in his home country, Syria, before moving to Lebanon to study fashion design. He started his own brand “Rakan,” in Chicago in 2017.
Cavanagh Baker is from Nashville, Tennessee and created her brand (named after herself) as a student at Savannah College of Art and Design. Her style is influenced by timeless luxury and contemporary twists, and she has dressed celebrities including Heidi Klum and Camila Mendes.
Tessa Clark was born in raised in Ohio, where she developed her love of fashion from her mom. Her womenswear line, “Grind and Glaze,” is in honor of the women who have influenced her in her life.
Bishme Cromartie is self-taught as a designer, but learned his sewing basics from his great-aunt. He was only 16 years old when he had his first solo fashion show.
Venny Etienne is a Haitian-American designer who studied at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology and Wade College in Dallas. He has dressed celebrity clients including Cardi B and Michelle Williams.
Jhoan “Sebastian” Grey
Sebastian was born in Colombia and worked in his family’s leather business growing up. His designs are well-established in Colombia today, and he has opened “Sebastian brand” stores in California and Medellin.
Renee Hill learned her passion for fashion from her seamstress mother, but did not start designing until after she raised a blended family of 9 children. She has been a professional designer for 5 years, and started her own brand 3 years ago.
Sonia Kasparian developed herself as an artist by studying fine art and drawing, before graduating from Otis/Parsons with a BA in fashion design. She has worked for major sports apparel brands and now creates couture and bridal pieces.
Kovid Kapoor was born in India to a military family but now lives in Brooklyn, New York. He balances his teachings and influences from both India and the United States in his fashion designs.
Frankie Lewis is a self-taught designer; she learned how to sew making costumes for local theater productions. She will soon be launching her new plus-size-inclusive line, Frankie Lew.
Lela Orr has an eco-luxury aesthetic in her southern-inspired designs. Her clothing line, Ferrah, is cruelty-free with zero waste.
Jamall Osterholm designs fashion with futurism in mind. He also uses his background as a queer black man as inspiration to create meaningful art in his work.
Nadine Ralliford was born in Jamaica, and her mother encouraged her to pursue the arts. She is now a fashion professor and has her own brand, Ralliford Hall Designs.
Gary “Garo Sparo” Spampinato
Gary Spampinato moved to New York after showcasing his fashion designs in the Absolut Alternative Fashion Week in 1995. His specialties are corsetry, couture, and made-to-order bridal.
Hester Sunshine started designing clothes for her dolls. She considers herself a “fashion outsider” after being kicked out of Parsons and having to finish her degree abroad.