Project Runway‘s season 17 premiere is big in many ways.
The show has a new host (supermodel Karlie Kloss) in addition to a new mentor (Christian Siriano) and new judges (designer Brandon Maxwell and journalist Elaine Welteroth) who are joining veteran judge Nina Garcia on the panel. Plus, it returns to Bravo after airing on Lifetime since season 6. This season, Project Runway is pushing for even more diversity in fashion by featuring the first transgender model on the show.
In an exclusive clip from tonight’s episode, model MiMi Tao opens up to one of the contestants about her journey.
“I have been working so hard to get here, especially for the transgender people, they need to work harder than other people,” Tao says. “I’m so glad I’m here. I’m the first transgender model in Project Runway.”
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The designer who was fitting a dress on Tao immediately stopped what he was doing and to thank the model, saying he was “so honored” to be the designer to create her look for the momentous occasion. “You’re a real goddess!” he gushes.
Tao then says, “I want to change the industry. I want to inspire all the transgender young generation who have a dream. Keep knocking the door. If they don’t open, the door is going to break one day.”
Other ways the show will be changing things up is when it comes to the judges’ face time with contestants. Nina García revealed at the New York City premiere that judges will spend more time with the designers than ever before.
“The most surprising part about this season was the fact that we had so much access to the designers, whereas seasons past we really didn’t have much accesss to them,” Garcia said. “We didn’t get to hear their background stories, our time with them was very limited. This time around we had so much more time to get to know them to know their backgrounds to know their story, to really understand where they’re coming from and where their creative process starts.”
The premiere of Project Runway season 17 airs Thursday, March 14 at 8 p.m. EST on Bravo.