Aiming to bring some of the show's signature drama out of the headlines and back to the small screen, the cable net has announced, just two days before the reality show's fifth season premiere, the newest flock of designers and guest judges who will do their best to avoid being auf'd.
In addition to host Heidi Klum, judges Michael Kors and Nina Garcia and mentor Tim Gunn, the 16 fierce wannabes will face off against guest judges Natalie Portman, Brooke Shields, LL Cool J, star stylist Rachel Zoe, RuPaul, Apolo Anton Ohno and Sandra Bernhard, as well as big-name designers Diane von Fürstenberg, Cynthia Rowley and Calvin Klein creative director Francisco Costa.
And then, of course, there's the camera-ready crop of contestants.
"I feel as though we set the bar higher every season," Klum said. "We've got some truly talented, innovative and deeply creative designers this year, and I think it's fair to say, the most diverse—everyone from a rocker chick who mostly works with leather to a more bohemian surfer boy, and everything in between."
Ferocia Coutura will also be pleased to know that, talented and innovative though the fresh meat may be, all are also older than reigning champ Christian Siriano, a mere 21 at the time of his crowning, ensuring for one more season that he will keep the title of Project Runway's youngest ever winner.
This year's contestants, along with their last known places of residence, include:
- Blayne, 23; Seattle
- Daniel, 25; Brooklyn
- Emily, 27; Los Angeles
- Jennifer, 27; Pistoia, Italy
- Jerell, 28; Los Angeles
- Jerry, 32; New York City
- Joe, 41; Troy, Mich.
- Keith, 26; Salt Lake City
- Kelli, 27, Columbus, Ohio
- Kenley, 25; Brooklyn
- Korto, 33; Mabelvale, Ark.
- Leanne, 27; Portland, Ore.
- Stella, 42; New York City
- Suede, 37; Barryville, N.Y.
- Terri, 39; Columbus, Ohio
- Wesley, 23; New York City
As always, there's more at stake for the designers than just a shot at reality TV stardom.
After the whittled-down finalists show their collections at New York Fashion Week, the reigning couturier will win an editorial feature in an upcoming issue of Elle magazine, $100,000 in seed money courtesy of Tresemmé hair care, a 2009 Saturn VUE Hybrid and the opportunity to hawk their wares on Bluefly.com.
The fifth season kicks off Wednesday on Bravo.