'Project Runway's' Bravo Homecoming Sets March Debut, Supersized Episodes and Cardi B: First Look!

Project Runway

Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn were 'supportive of the new direction' of the series' new iteration, says executive producer Dan Cutforth.

Project Runway's return to Bravo is coming sooner than you think.

The 17th cycle of the fashion design competition, featuring drastic changes in front of the camera and a new set, will launch Thursday, March 14 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo with supersized 90-minute episodes, officially marking the show's homecoming after 10 years at Lifetime. 

With Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn no longer a part of the franchise they made famous, model Karlie Kloss takes over hosting duties with former Project Runway winner Christian Siriano tapped as the new mentor. Returning judge Nina Garcia will be joined by Teen Vogue editor-in-chief Elaine Welteroth and designer Brandon Maxwell.

Project Runway's format remains largely the same, with 16 fashion designers from the U.S. and around the world competing in weekly challenges, for a chance to show their collection to industry insiders and tastemakers. The winning designer will receive a grand prize that's been upped to $250,000, a feature in Elle, a mentorship with the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), a role in a Bluprint digital series and $50,000 to put toward a design studio. 

What's new will be 24-hour flash sales, a new runway, an expansive new workroom, the franchise's first transgender model and challenges focusing on fast fashion. The first trailer, which dropped Tuesday at the show's Television Critics Association panel, offered a sneak peek into the "new chapter" for Project Runway. 

Executive producer Jane Lipsitz assured longtime fans of the show that the new iteration intends on "preserving what a lot of people originally loved." "We're dedicated to process and design and launching new designers. We would hope that the audience takes away many, many things from the series. It's inspiring, it can be emotionally moving. We're excited about the evolution of the conversation that's happening," she said at the panel.

Dan Cutforth, executive producer of Project Runway, briefly addressed Klum and Gunn's departures, saying they "made the decision to go in a different direction." "Tim and Heidi have been such a great part of the show since the beginning and really helped bring this show together and make the show into something that people fell in love with," Cutforth said. "They were really supportive of the new direction that we were going in." 

Special guests for the new season include Kendall Jenner and Beyonce's stylist, Marni Senofonte, Danielle Brooks, designer Dapper Dan, Gotham actress Morena Baccarin and Cardi B.

The new crop of contestants below.

·         Afa Ah Loo - Lotopa, Samoa

·         Rakan Shams Aldeen - Homs, Syria

·         Cavanagh Baker – Nashville, TN

·         Tessa Clark - Greenville, OH

·         Bishme Cromartie - Baltimore, MD

·         Venny Etienne - Brooklyn, NY

·         Jhoan “Sebastian” Grey - Cali, Colombia

·         Renee Hill - Philadelphia, PA

·         Sonia Kasparian - Portland, OR

·         Kovid Kapoor - Brooklyn, NY

·         Frankie Lewis - Louisville, KY

·         Lela Orr - Monroe, LA

·         Jamall Osterholm - Cranston, RI

·         Nadine Ralliford - Stone Mountain, GA

·         Gary “Garo Sparo” Spampinato - Bayshore, NY

·         Hester Sunshine - Santa Fe, NM

Klum and Gunn exited the series in September, after 16 cycles with Project Runway, for a new fashion series on Amazon. Klum reflected on the show with ET that month. 

“I remember I had to write the show, sell the show and I remember walking to all these different networks and trying to explain why it would be interesting to watch designers create and it was a really hard sell at the time, but we finally did get to be on the air and it's been a baby of ours for 16 years," Klum recalled. "But now [it] can walk by itself, on its own.”

“I'll never get rid of my husband -- we're husband and wife forever -- but our baby is old enough to walk by itself," she said of Gunn. 

Project Runway premieres Thursday, March 14 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo.