"Project Runway" may have been on for a few years now, but it's got an inherently fresh premise. Since it's a show based around creativity, every year a new batch of designers brings all new ideas and quirks to the reality competition. We talked to Zac Posen, judge and designer extraordinaire, about the new season and what keeps him coming back after three seasons.
On the pleasures of reality TV
Every day is its own adventure. We have no idea what to expect, so I love having to be reactive and surprised in the moment by what we see. I love to be on a television platform that is about the creative process. ... It’s really the one television format that, while remaining entertaining, is actually really celebrating the process.
On the returning contestants
When you have a returning designer, they are experienced in the situation of not only having to create in a fast time frame, but they understand who they are and how they can perfect their television persona. They’re more seasoned players. ... They’ve been through the ropes, and so it just ups the competition even more. They’ve become the go-to in terms of advice or nurturement through the process. They definitely step up the competitive edge for the rest of the designers.
On what the best challenges are
My favorite challenges every season are the alternative material challenges because all of a sudden you get to see how far the creativity of these designers can go. Because in the time frame, very rarely are you able to finish something perfectly or the way you would do something with the actual proper time it takes to make a beautiful piece of clothing. Often we’re surprised. There’s people who are sort of magic, who have the talent of being like a magic seamstress and pattern maker and they can zip out pieces that are totally mind blowing fast.
On what it takes to win
I wish that a lot of designers that I see on the show, instead of interpreting what is already out there on the street in terms of fashion, listened more inside their own voice about what they have to say that’s unique to the world. That becomes a key winning designer for us, when you see someone that is pushing the boundaries and showing us something new. The imagination is infinite, so it’s quite a joy to watch this experience and to have fun with it, too.
"Runway" often brings in guest celebrity judges to spice things up. Posen says the range of judges can mean they bring a simple, yet important element of "would I wear this?" or they bring the more in-depth "understanding the artistry of it." Expect to see such familiar faces as Elizabeth Moss, Julie Bowen, Dita Von Teese and Amanda de Cadenet stopping by to weigh in on this season's contestants. Of course, Posen has nothing but nickind words about his usual judging compatriots, Heidi Klum and Nina Garcia. "We're all very strong minded in our ways," says Posen. "But there's always that camaraderie and respect towards each other, which makes it very fun on set. I mean, we have a blast."