- Project Runway has been a successful platform for many contestants to launch their careers in the fashion industry.
- Christian Siriano, the winner of season 4, is the most successful Project Runway alum, with a thriving career, including dressing celebrities like Lady Gaga and Michelle Obama.
- Other winners like Chloe Dao, Leanne Marshall, and Irina Shabayeva have also achieved success in the fashion industry, with their own collections and collaborations with big brands.
Since premiering in 2004, Project Runway has featured over three hundred designers, and it’s time to talk about the contestants who found the most success after one of the best reality TV shows. Project Runway season 20 premiered in 2023 and has inspired many spinoffs in multiple countries worldwide. The series has become a high-profile vehicle for designers to launch and further their careers in the fashion industry.
The Bravo hit show has faced multiple reports that contestants often don’t get career boosts from appearing on Project Runway. The series’ producers have been criticized for giving little to no assistance to contestants, some of whom try to distance themselves from the show after competing. However, there have been many Project Runway contestants who have flourished. Many contestants found post-show success, from designing wedding gowns and owning boutiques to working with Disney and dressing celebrities.
Christian Siriano Is The Most Successful Project Runway Alum
The most successful Project Runway contestant is Christian Siriano, named Project Runway season 4 winner at 21. Before appearing on the show in 2008, he studied overseas at American InterContinental University, designed custom wedding gowns, and interned for Marc Jacobs and Alexander McQueen. Christian has been included in Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2018. He’s also worked as a lead costume designer for Disney and is a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Celebrities like Lady Gaga, Cardi B, and Michelle Obama have worn his designs. Christian returned to Project Runway as a mentor in 2019 following the departures of Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum.
Other Successful Project Runway Cast Members
Aside from Christian, Chloe Dao, Leanne Marshall, and Irina Shabayeva have all found success since appearing on Project Runway. With almost 30 years of experience in the fashion industry and a thriving boutique in Houston, Texas, it’s no surprise that Chloe was named the winner of Project Runway season 2. She has since partnered with QVC, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, and the Salvation Army of Houston and started an initiative to donate face masks to needy people. She was also an acting executive producer and judge for Project Runway Vietnam in 2014.
Leanne, who won Project Runaway season 5, has been wowing the fashion industry’s best and brightest at New York Fashion Week since 2008. The former Project Runway winner’s signature collection was launched in 2011 and can still be found in boutiques and online. Following her win, fans can discover Leanne’s design studio and flagship showroom in the Fashion District after relocating to New York City from Portland, Oregon. The winner of the following season, Irina, has launched a bridal collection exclusively with Kleinfeld, the boutique at the center of Say Yes To The Dress. Additionally, Irina launched a ready-to-wear line and a lingerie collection worn by multiple celebrities, including Carrie Underwood and Madonna. Irina also competed in Project Runway All-Stars seasons 3 and 7.
Other Project Runway contestants who have found post-show success include Anya Ayoung-Chee and Erin Robertson. Anya miraculously took home Project Runway‘s season 9 title with only four months of sewing experience. The former pageant queen has since created a resort-wear line. She also managed a boutique and café in Trinidad and Tobago and appeared as a mentor in Tim Gunn’s spin-off, Under The Gunn. A recipient of the Council of Fashion Designers of America Teen Vogue Scholarship, Erin went on to win the sometimes scandal-prone Project Runway reality show. She was victorious during Project Runway season 15 in 2016. Erin has continued designing for her line, An-Erin, and has collaborated on a collection with Starburst candy. Her designs have appeared in several publications, including Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, and Forbes.
All seasons of Project Runway are available for streaming on Peacock.
Sources: Christian Siriano/Instagram