Why This Is the "Best Project Runway Season" Ever

Project Runway's Elaine Welteroth and Christian Siriano dished on why season 19 is a totally new level of talent, plus they shared details on all the BTS workroom drama.

By Samantha Bergeson Oct 14, 2021 2:00 PMTags
Watch: "Project Runway's" IMPRESSIVE "Unconventional Challenge"

It's sew good to be back. 

Project Runway judge Elaine Welteroth and mentor Christian Siriano exclusively explained why season 19 has the most talented crop of designers yet...that is, at least since A-list designer Siriano won season four!

"I really think this is the best Project Runway season that we've had since Christian's," Welteroth gushed to E! News ahead of tonight's premiere on Bravo. "I just think that this crop of designers are among the most talented we've ever seen on this show, and there was something really special about the energy of coming together and seeing people do what they love after a year like the one we had. I think everyone came in with a spirit of gratitude and a hunger to win like we've never seen before."

From "fabulous" guest judges like Gigi Hadid to Billy Porter, this year's contestants proved to be some of the most divisive yet. 

"We were really battling it out because I think we all felt so invested," Welteroth added. "With all the heartwarming, inspirational stuff, there's equal amounts of drama and Christian can tell you all about that, because he was at the center of most of it."

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According to Siriano, the first two episodes are immediately "intense" due to some big personalities and the need to prove themselves.

"I think because everyone was kind of taken away from their normal life for so long, I think they're so overly creative and passionate about what they're doing," Siriano revealed. "I think they think all bets are off, everything can be taken away from you tomorrow, so they're kind of going out at is like nothing to lose, but everything to lose."

Karolina Wojtasik/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

He continued, "It's a really interesting dynamic among the designers. We also have a lot of designers from other countries and cultures so there's a lot of really interesting inspirations, which I think we haven't had as much of until this season. So that is interesting to watch, and that can be also dramatic because not everybody understands each other. There's language barriers, there's all kinds of things. It's fun to watch. But also great clothes, so it goes both ways." 

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And, Welteroth hinted that her fellow judges Nina Garcia and Brandon Maxwell were also in awe of the annual unconventional materials challenge.

Chris Haston/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

"This was one of the most impressive episodes or challenges that I've ever seen and it was the unconventional challenge," Welteroth said. "What these designers were able to create out of straws and popcorn, it was unbelievable." 

Siriano noted, "Some of it looked like couture. You could not tell that it was not made from the best quality fabrics. I think we were all really blown away by the ingenuity, by the creativity and just the sheer skill of some of these designers. It was truly mind-blowing."

So, do any of these Project Runway designers have what it takes to be the next Christian Siriano? 

"The young generation feels a bit like no one's on their side because the industry is really, really tough to build a brand in fashion. You're competing with such massive, big houses and there's so much money involved," Siriano explained. "I think the young design-lovers are sitting in school or sitting at home, thinking, 'Oh, how am I going to make it?' So it's really important that Project Runway really stays around, because I think that's the goal."

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Project Runway alums have also gone on to work for Siriano himself, selling their clothes in his stores or hosting pop-ups. "I'm not a judge so I don't always get to pick the person who I fall in love with, so I usually find those people and help them afterwards," Siriano admitted.

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"Sometimes, not always, the winner or the runner-up isn't maybe the most savvy at running a company just yet, so I'm more interested sometimes in that, just being a working designer. But it's a mix, and Geoffrey [Mac], our winner from last season, I throw work at him all the time. I'll be like, 'I have a friend, she's an actress, I don't have time to do something, you should do it.' I try to help him out as much as I can, too." 

Siriano concluded, "At least that's why I'm even on the show. Obviously I have a career and do other things, but I'm there to make sure that a young generation of talent is not left behind." 

Project Runway returns Thursday, Oct. 14 at 9 p.m. on Bravo. Binge past episodes on Peacock.

(E!, Bravo and Peacock are all part of the NBCUniversal family.)

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