Having rebounded last fall, Project Runway returns for its ninth season

Tonight, Project Runway returns for its ninth season, its fourth on Lifetime. And it will be the second season since the show rebounded last season thanks to several changes, including longer, 90-minute episodes. Will the show stay in fashion?

For a Daily Beast story, I talked to two of the show’s new producers, Jon Murray and Sara Rea, and to judge Nina Garcia, who admitted the show stumbled when it moved to Lifetime. She suggested that the casting was the biggest problem, and said producers have no found “more qualified” contestants.

Among the changes for this season are voting via Twitter for fan favorite; a casting special that airs at 8 p.m. ET tonight, prior to the 9 p.m. premiere; and an outdoor runway show challenge later in the season. Tonight, though, there will be 20 designers who come to New York City for their final auditions, which Nina and the producers said affects the whole season, because for the first time, the judges actually know the designers going into the competition, having learned about their background and abilities via clothing they’ve made before.

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