‘Project Runway’ Winners: Where Are They Now?
Project Runway has been a guilty pleasure for fans since 2009. After living on Bravo for five seasons, the show found a home on Lifetime, and so did the esteemed judges Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn, Nina Garcia and Zac Posen.
Over 16 seasons, fashion designers from all over the globe have gotten the opportunity to find their voice, including designer Christian Siriano, who was just 22 years old when he won season four. Ashley Tipton was the first designer to use all plus-size models during season 14, and Kentaro Kameyama, the 38-year-old designer from Los Angeles, has been busy working on a new line since his win during the most recent season 16.
After a bit of a hiatus, Project Runway will be returning to Bravo for season 17, with Klum returning as host. Although we don’t have a definitive premiere date just yet, it’s likely it will air this fall.
“Project Runway is coming back where it all started, it's coming home on Bravo," Andy Cohen announced during NBCUniversal’s upfront presentation last month. This is in addition to the Project Runway spinoff, Project Runway: All Stars, which has been renewed for a seventh season.
While we wait for season 17 to grace our television screens, here's what the former winners have been up to since their last appearance on the show.
Jay McCarroll, Season 1
McCarroll is known as one of the few Project Runway winners to never win a single challenge until the final runway show. After winning the show in 2005, he appeared on Project Jay, Eleven Minutes, and VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club. For a while, he was running a blog and online fashion boutique, but the site hasn’t been updated since 2014. He is still active on his Instagram page, though, with a bio stating, “I like colors and stuff.”
Chloe Dao, Season 2
After winning season two of Project Runway, Dao went on to executive produce and judge the first season of Project Runway: Vietnam, which ran for three seasons starting in 2013. In 2008, she debuted her own line called DAO Chloe DAO, which is now a boutique in her hometown of Houston. She’s also active in Houston-area philanthropies including Susan G. Komen and the Salvation Army of Houston.
Jeffrey Sebelia, Season 3
Sebelia was portrayed as somewhat of a villain on his season of Project Runway, and many fans were upset when he won. Since then, Sebelia has worked on multiple projects designing kids clothing. In 2013, he participated in Project Runway: All Stars, where he placed seventh out of 11 contestants.
Christian Siriano, Season 4
Known as one of the most successful Project Runway winners, Siriano was also the youngest person to ever win the show. He launched his namesake “Christian Siriano” clothing line in 2008 and now regularly dresses some of the biggest names in Hollywood like Victoria Beckham, Taylor Swift, Rihanna and even Kim Kardashian West.
Leanne Marshall, Season 5
Marshall has had huge success since winning Project Runway in 2008. She's most notably known for her feminine wave-inspired collection in shades of turquoise and ivory, which impressed judges week after week. She launched her own bridal collection in 2011, which is carried in over 35 boutiques internationally and online.
Irina Shabayeva, Season 6
Following season six of Project Runway, Shabayeva developed couture collections of gowns and wedding dresses, as well as a lingerie line. She got sixth place on season three of Project Runway: All Stars in 2013 and even launched a bridal line exclusive at Kleinfeld’s in 2011.
Seth Aaron Henderson, Season 7
Henderson was the first Project Runway contestant to win both a regular season of the show as well as season three of Project Runway: All Stars in 2014. He’s known for his sustainable designs using organic fabrics and recyclable plastic bottles, and even recently created a line of iPad covers for the brand Maroo. Last fall, he worked with the brand Feetz to release the first pair of 3D printed shoes.
Gretchen Jones, Season 8
Jones may be the most controversial winner of Project Runway ever. She won after a heated debate between the judges, who eventually chose her over fan favorite Mondo Guerra. This year, she graduated with an MBA in fashion from the University of London College of Fashion. She’s spoken publicly at SXSW, Columbia School of Business and Princeton University, and has been featured in numerous fashion magazines like Refinery29 and Elle.
Anya Ayoung-Chee, Season 9
Ayoung-Chee has launched both a boutique, Exhibit A, and a lingerie line, Anya de Rouge, since winning season nine of Project Runway, and even worked with Gunn on the reality show Under the Gunn in 2014 to mentor other designers. In her spare time, she’s also a travel ambassador for Trinidad and Tobago, where she currently lives.
Dmitry Sholokhov, Season 10
Sholokhov won season 10 of Project Runway as well as season four of Project Runway: All Stars. Since then, he has worked as an instructor at the Parsons School of Design (his alma mater) and has his own label, where he creates high-fashion yet wearable designs.
Michelle Lesniak, Season 11
Season 11 of Project Runway gave Michelle Lesniak the opportunity of a lifetime. Despite her lack of formal training, her daring looks gave her an edge in the competition. She now lives and works in Portland, Oregon, and has a studio in the city, where she does clothing and costume design, called Michelle Lesniak Boutique.
Dom Streater, Season 12
After Streater won both season 12 of Project Runway and season five of Project Runway: All Stars, she returned to Philadelphia to focus on her designs, launching an online-only womenswear brand. She was even named one of Nicole Miller’s "Most Fashionable Women of Philadelphia."
Sean Kelly, Season 13
Kelly's iconic color-changing dress for the "Rain" challenge helped him win season 13 of Project Runway. Gunn even called Kelly his favorite contestant by the time the season came to an end, so that’s a win in and of itself. Now, the New Zealand-born designer lives in New York City and has designed for clients like Klum and been featured in Marie Claire magazine.
Ashley Nell Tipton, Season 14
Tipton was the first contestant on Project Runway to win by using all plus-size models. “This industry puts a bad view on plus-size women and the way we dress, and it’s because we don’t have options,” she told Buzzfeed during her season. Following her win in 2015, she designed a line with JCPenney and last fall launched her own plus-size line of apparel and eyewear called the ANT Premier Line.
Erin Robertson, Season 15
An alum of Massachusetts College of Art and Design, with a degree in both fashion and fiber art, Robertson returned to Boston following her Project Runway win and now has a studio space in the city, where she still designs.
Kentaro Kameyama, Season 16
In a surprising finish to season 16, Kameyama pulled out a win, shocking even the most stone-faced Project Runway judges. Posen went so far as to say that Kameyama “knocked his socks off.” Known for his expertly tailored clothing, the classically trained pianist even had his models walk to one of his original scores during the final show. Now, he’s living in Los Angeles and perfecting his new collection that premiered during Fashion Week earlier this year.
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