After a nearly two-year hiatus, Project Runway is back on Bravo on Thursday nights at 9pm ET for its 19th season. Taped this past Spring in New York, the show returns with 16 designers from across and country and fashion experts Christian Siriano, Nina Garcia, Brandon Maxwell, and, our good girlfriend, Elaine Welteroth to guide them along the way.
Unlike other seasons, show producers seem to be pushing the envelope early and tackling issues in and outside of the fashion industry right away. Just two weeks into the show, a streetwear design challenge turned into a platform for contestants to discuss issues of race, social justice, and the lack of diversity on the runway. Note, only 4 out of the 16 designers are Black.
During this episode, Atlanta-based designer, Zayden Skipper painted “Say Their Names” on his design to raise awareness about the Black Lives Matter the lives lost at the hands of police officers and Haitian American designer Prajjé Oscar Jean-Baptiste celebrated his culture and heritage through his mix-media look with a unique design of a Haitian figure. No spoilers here, but this contentious challenge sent a designer home before the end of the episode.
Up for grabs this season is $250,000 supplied by Pilot FriXion Erasable Pens and a mentorship with the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Now I don’t know about you, but I can’t be the only one who wants the Black people to win every single game show and/or reality competition. So, bookmark the following Project Runway designers, save them on Instagram, and retweet them on Twitter.
If these past few episodes are indicative of what’s to come, it will be interesting to see what else happens this season. And, we are rooting for everybody Black.
1. Prajjé Oscar Jean-Baptiste, Age 37
Raised in Haiti by his grandmother, Prajje loved fashion at a young age and realized it could turn into a real career around the age of 14 after moving to the United States. According to his brand website, he opened his fashion house in Boston in 2003 and now oversees its operations in Philadelphia, and its design studio and manufacture in Haiti. Known for his commitment to tradition and savoir faire in his clothing, Prajje’s streetwear look stood out in not only its color and bold styling but in its unapologetic story and message.
2. Bones Jones, Age 30
Bones started his career in the arts first as a professional dancer but soon found out that his calling was in fashion design. In 2019, Bones moved to New York to launch his unisex fashion line, House O Bones (HOB). On the show, Bones has shown that he has no problem dressing curvy bodies, mixing patterns and textiles, or speaking his mind, and I am here for it. Get into his streetwear look – serving all of it.
3. Chasity Sereal, Age 31
Chasity grew up in Houston and got her “start” by designing senior prom dresses while still in school. Much later, she first launched her self-titled line in 2009 with designs ranging from luxury streetwear to ready-to-wear couture. According to the Bravo website, her “couture pieces are designed for strong, powerful women while also injecting “Disney Princess” silhouettes.” Chastity’s recent streetwear look stood out from others on the runway as she brought a more sophisticated, sheer, all-black feel to her design. Though the look doesn’t scream streetwear it has an elevated design that provides a new perspective to the trend.
4. Zayden Skipper, Age 32
Raised in Chicago, Zayden was inspired to pick up a needle and thread after watching his mother and grandmother make clothes for him and his sisters. He moved to Atlanta to pursue his interest in fashion but the road to success and recognition in fashion wasn’t easy. Determined to overcome adversity, Zayden went from being homeless to the only Black man to graduate from Savannah College of Art and Design in his class with a Masters in Fine Arts. In describing his streetwear look on Instagram, Zayden writes “’I got time today’ … I’m reppin my culture in ways I never imagined.” I know I speak for everyone when I say I’m glad he did because the entire look was fire.