INTERVIEW Heidi Klum on Project Runway Season 10: spoilers, challenges, guest judges, and more

Project Runway Season 10 poster with Heidi Klum lying on a bed of scissors

It’s hard to believe aspiring designers have been trying to “make it work” while suffering through the decathlon of fashion otherwise known as Project Runway for ten seasons! Yep, the ground-breaking reality competition is returning July 19 for the TENTH time as 16 new designers face off to see who has the talent, creativity, fortitude, and stamina to take home the top prize at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week!

In preparation for the new season, Project Runway host Heidi Klum was kind enough to answer questions from a variety of sources in a conference call on Wednesday, and we have the interview in its entirety for you! But, before we get to the full-on Q&A with Heidi, here are a few bullet point highlights for those of you who aren’t too fond of lots of words:

Project Runway Season 10 guest judges will include Patricia Field, Lauren Graham, Dylan Lauren (daughter of Ralph Lauren), Hayden Panettiere and Krysten Ritter.

Some of the Season 10 challenges are another candy store challenge at Dylan’s Candy Bar (You may have figured out from the list of guest judges above that Dylan Lauren will be on the panel for this challenge.), a Rockettes challenge (see a photo of Heidi and Tim with the Rockettes toward the bottom of this page), a challenge involving babies, and a challenge involving one of Heidi’s many fashion enterprises. (Though it is not mentioned in the interview, I can’t imagine they won’t have some sort of challenge that ties in with the release of the new book, Project Runway: The Show That Changed Fashion, last week.)

At some point during Season 10, two designers depart in the middle of the night without telling anyone.

Heidi hopes to take the show international, possibly Paris, in an upcoming season.

Here are all 16 designers competing on Project Runway Season 10 followed by the full Heidi Klum interview:

Photos of all 16 Project Runway Season 10 designers

Who can we expect to see as guest judges?

Obviously I can never give too many guest judges away, but some people that I was allowed to mention was Patricia Field. She has been a stylist. She has a store here in New York City. She’s very well known for doing Sex in the City and The Devil Wears Prada. She does a lot of full movies and television.

She’s actually been one of our very first judges ever on Project Runway. She did our very first challenge on our very first season. So we thought it would be fun to bring her back. She is a very well known New York woman. I love her very much. So we brought her back ten seasons later.

For our very first challenge that we did in Times Square we also had Lauren Graham. I can give her away. A lot of people did see her when she was out with us here in Times Square. (You can see a photo of the full Times Square judging table, including Patricia Field and Lauren Graham, in part two of this interview) Hayden Panettiere has been one of our guest judges. Also Krysten Ritter, and I think I’m not allowed to give anymore away.

What’s it been like being back for the tenth season for you, as the host and judge?

It’s been amazing. It’s been ten seasons and we all would’ve never thought that we would make it this far. Michael always says that we’re on longer than I Love Lucy, which we always laugh about and I can’t believe it. But he Googled it and he was like, “They did so many seasons and we did ten seasons. We’re on longer, on television, than I Love Lucy,” and we always laugh about it because we all love I Love Lucy. It’s amazing. Ten seasons is a milestone. It’s a long time.

And I have to tell you even though we’ve been doing it for ten seasons I still love coming to work every season. I love being with Michael and I love being with Nina and Tim. They’re all so much fun, and we have become a family.

It is always exciting to see these new designers, to see their story. They all have a different story to tell and they’re all passionate. They’re young people that come here with green eyes and not really knowing 100% what this business is about and they’re not jaded. It’s always fun to have these people that are so hungry for it all.

Heidi Klum Project Runway quote
I don’t know; we love it. We still laugh and we sit there and have a great time. So it’s exciting and we’re proud you know? We’re very proud. I started Project Runway from the very beginning. Going around New York City trying to sell the show to networks and trying to explain what the show was all about.

I’m very proud of it. It’s like it’s one of my babies. I love the show and I love what it’s become and we’ve got a lot of fans and it’s become a cult. Not a cult, but an iconic kind of show that people recognize and we’re all very proud of it.

Can you tell us how you think this group of designers compares to past groups, in terms of talent level?

It’s always hard to compare because I never like to say that this season we have more talented designers than previous seasons because they were all always talented. And each season fashion evolves and fashion becomes different and so do our designers. I think we have some on this season that are not that talented and we quickly see that. We have some that are really amazing that have come up with new things where we sit there and we’re like, “Wow, we haven’t seen anything like that,’ or, “You have a different technique.”

So it’s always mixed. There are always some designers there that aren’t that great that we’re hoping to be better and they just aren’t. And then there are some that blow us away and they do beautiful work in the time that they have. So it’s always both, good and bad …

Tim Gunn’s 10 reasons to love Project Runway Season 10:

How would you say that they compare in terms of temperament? Some seasons are more dramatic than others. Is this one more dramatic or more low key?

It’s also mixed. Our show is based on talent. It’s not based on having characters on. I feel like there are so many shows out there that just put people on because they look a certain way or they talk in a certain way or they’re goofy and funny or they do a lot for show or they do a lot for TV.

I think we’re had longevity of a great show because it is about fashion and that is the main focus about our show. I think that’s why people appreciate what we put on the air. That it’s not about gossip and who sleeps with whom and who does what and who is getting on who’s nerves.

Obviously, when things happen, we do show some of it, but this is not what our show is based on. Our show is based on fashion and I think people appreciate that and I think that’s why we have been out for so long.

But, people in the fashion industry; they’re very proud and they are designers and they stand behind what they make. So there’s always friction and there’s always jealousy amongst them and they think one did something better than the other. That always happens.

My daughters were 12 and 11 ten seasons ago when they said I had to come watch this show in which people went to a grocery store and had to create fashion. So I’m wondering in all that time, are there any particular fashions that stand out? Any finished products as being just your absolute favorites or maybe something that was just the worst thing in ten seasons that you saw?

I personally always love the pieces that actually get to go out there in the real world. We’ve done things for example with Banana Republic where people could buy things or where they created something for Barbie to wear. I mean obviously I love the challenges where they have to use unconventional materials and yes, those pieces do stand out for me.

We had, for example, a challenge with a car where they had to use materials that were part of the car. Someone made a beautiful trench coat out of seatbelts or the mirror of the car and broke it and made jewelry out of it or it was part of the dress. They get really creative when they don’t actually have fabrics and I always love that.

Austin Scarlett's corn husk dress from Project Runway season 1 episode 1The same with Austin Scarlett and his very first challenge, which was also a big thing for us, was Project Runway going to work or not when we did the challenge where they had to go to the grocery store and Austin Scarlett made this cornhusk dress (right). So I love those too.

But I like the pieces that actually go out there for people to buy, because our designers are so proud when people can actually buy their pieces. They’ve designed things for me for my New Balance line before and people can buy this and they can say, “Oh yes, this is one of the Project Runway designers.” Or for example, this season the designers get to design a new outfit for the Rockettes.

This is something that will go down in history, and I love that, because even 10 or 20 seasons down the line when people do documentaries about the Rockettes and their costumes, it is something that will never go away. That is not something that will be forgotten.

I went to Radio City Hall and I saw all the costumes that they had on the mannequins. They’ve been around since the 40s, and now there are all these beautiful show outfits that they’ve worn and now there will be one for all the 39 Rockettes that a Project Runway designer did. I love that. It really means that we were part of other things too than just Project Runway. It’s great for these designers.

Project Runway Season 10 Rockettes challenge with Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn
^ Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn join the world’s most famous kickline for the Project Runway Season 10 Rockettes challenge. (Photo: Project Runway)

That also is one of my favorite challenges. I always love it when reality all of the sudden comes into it and people get to see their design in different places than just on our runway.

* Interview continues on page 2! Just click the link…