Project Runway is back on Bravo in March, after the Project Runway All Stars season 7 finishes its run on Lifetime. So, where are the first 16 Project Runway winners today? Here is part three of our series on Project Runway champs – where are they now?
Project Runway Season 9 Winner: Anya Ayoung-Chee
Born in New York City, raised in Trinidad and Tobago, Anya Ayoung-Chee is one of the most memorable designers. Representing Trinidad and Tobago in Miss Universe, she only learned to sew a few months before competing on Project Runway. The fact she was able to overcome her lack of sewing experience was frequently pointed out over that season. Anya loves to use floaty fabrics and bold prints, and it was no surprise that she won as she was always the runway favorite.
After Project Runway, she started a line called PILAR, named after her deceased brother. Her brand has really taken off in the Caribbean, where she has made a name for herself. She has also been heavily involved with charitable causes, as well as acting as travel ambassador for her home nation.
During season 7, Anthony Ryan Auld also competed. Although he only reached the seventh place, he went on to win Project Runway All Stars season 2. He, along with Anya Ayoung-Chee are both competing in All Stars season 7. Anya also was a mentor in Tim Gunn’s short-lived show, Under the Gunn.
Most recently, Ayoung-Chee married her steady boyfriend, photographer Wyatt Gallery in January of 2018, and she gave birth to a son, Kaïri Pilar Gallery, in July of the same year.
Project Runway Season 10 Winner: Dmitry Sholokhov
Dmitry Sholokhov is the epitome of the American dream. A professional ballroom dancer as a teen, he left his native Belarus with the dream of becoming a designer. He went to Parson’s to learn how to perfect his design and tailoring skills. His architectural designs even made Nina Garcia smile.
After Project Runway, he became an instructor at Parson’s. He also created an eight-piece collection for Lord & Taylor and sold clothes from his label on QVC. Then, he competed on PRAS season 4, and won. He, Dom Streeter, and Seth Aaron Henderson are the three season winners who won their season and All Stars. Dmitry is currently competing on PRAS 7.
Project Runway Season 11 Winner: Michelle Lesniak
The eleventh season was an experimental season. Zac Posen was now a judge, while Michael Kors departed the show because of his hectic schedule. In addition, there was a twist. All of the challenges were group challenges, which made the season quite different from any other.
Group challenges are the most dreaded challenges for designers, but in the real world of fashion, those who can collaborate will succeed. So, it takes a very tough designer to be able to navigate group challenges and still show off their aesthetic. This designer was Michelle Lesniak.
A tough designer, she managed to save herself from elimination when she designed an 80s inspired dress for Miranda Lambert. Eventually, she designed herself into a major win.
The Portland, Oregon native was a self-confessed thrift shop junkie, whose Gothic design aesthetic has one foot in the future and the other in the past. By the end of the competition, the artistic Lesniak identified herself as a lone wolf, and she pushed herself to win the whole thing. Later, she competed and was eliminated in PRAS season 5, and is currently on All Stars season 7.
The big surprise for season 11 was the return of Michael Kors, this time as the season finale guest judge. He was in rare form, sharing his humorous critiques of the finale collections. His return brought some normality in a season that always felt a bit off. The irony was that although this was a season of group challenges, this group of designers really treated each other with respect. Ironically, the next group competing in season 12 would prove to be the meanest group in the history of the show.
Project Runway Season 12 Winner: Dom Streater
The twelfth season went back to the normal format of occasional group challenges. Zac Posen returned as a judge, but this season was memorable because it was riddled with fighting. The irony was that Dom Streater, the first African American winner, was one of the bubbliest and upbeat personalities ever on the show. This particular fact is hard to remember, as season 12 was a dramafest.
The first sign of over the top drama started off with hot-headed Sandro Masmanidi. The Russian born designer demanded a critique on one of his designs. After Zac talked him down, Sandro wound up having a huge rift with Helen Castillo backstage. Sandro became so infuriated, he violently knocked down a camera from a Lifetime cameraperson as he stormed out. Soon, a visibly shocked Tim Gunn returned to the backstage room where he announced Sandro would not be returning to the competition.
Many fans will also recall when the pool of designers dwindled down, Alexander Pope came in to share a room with Ken Laurence and Justin LeBlanc. Pope felt that Laurence, who was sporting a facial treatment mask and ironing, was too slow. The impatient Pope barged in, and knocked over the iron, igniting Laurence. Next, the cameras were on Ken, still donning a facial mask, who was loudly ranting, while the producers were carefully trying to calm him down and settle the situation.
The Project Runway Drama Is Real
If fans ever believed that the drama was manufactured in the editing room, they need to think again. Dom told The Today Show that the fights “went on for hours.” The upbeat designer admitted she had to work hard to stay positive.
“You guys got to see the bulk of the craziness, but it was a lot more dramatic in real life.”
In addition to Sandro, Ken and Alexander, there was a lot of friction between Alexandria Von Bromssen and Helen Castillo. Alexandria was very hard on the extremely emotional Helen. Alexandria also threw Ken under the bus.
Drama is expected on the set of a reality show, but not horrible friction that transpired between two designers who were friends before competing on the show. Milwaukee designer friends Timothy Westbrook and Miranda Kay Levy had a blowout early in the season.
Sustainable designer Timothy was already quite memorable. He coached his model to walk down the runway in a sort of shuffle. At one point, he asked her to stop and sniff her armpits. Thankfully, Tim Gunn put all stops to these kooky instructions. But, when the two were part of a team, the worst came out between the two designers, and it was heartbreaking to see two former friends treat each other poorly.
The Print Wizard
As for Dom Streater, she is a wiz with prints. She could combine two or three prints for some of the most visually stunning designs ever. She even hand-painted her own designs to create some visually stunning garments. A few years later, the Philadelphia based designer returned to compete and win Project Runway All Stars season 5. Taking a very creative path in fashion, Dom now creates and sells her own handmade garments, featuring her original artwork.
Project Runway starts up all-new in March on Bravo. Christian Siriano, Season 4 winner, is the new mentor taking Tim Gunn’s place. Karlie Kloss will host in place of Heidi Klum. So it’s just Nina Garcia from the original Project Runway that stays the same!
Come back often to Soap Dirt for current Project Runway recaps, news, and spoilers.