The upcoming 17th season of Project Runway will feature the fashion design competition’s first transgender model, The Wrap reports.
“We have full-figured models, we have African-American models, we have our first transgender model in Project Runway this season,” judge Nina Garcia told reporters this week during the Television Critics Association press tour.
While the show hasn’t previously welcomed trans models, it has included at least one trans designer: three-time competitor Ari South, who transitioned between her first and second appearances.
As previously announced, fashion model Karlie Kloss and designer Christian Siriano have replaced host Heidi Klum and mentor Tim Gunn. Following 16 seasons on Project Runway, which aired on Bravo and Lifetime, Emmy winners Klum and Gunn gave the competition the double kiss-off to launch another fashion-focused reality series for Amazon Prime Video.
Garcia, Elle’s editor-in-chief, returns to Project Runway as a judge alongside two newcomers: designer Brandon Maxwell and former Teen Vogue editor-in-chief Elaine Welteroth.
“Project Runway has offered such wonderful opportunities for so many and I’m excited to take on this role as a mentor,” said former winner and Siriano in a previous statement. “I hope to guide and inspire the new talent on the rise.”
Project Runway launched in 2004 on Bravo before moving to Lifetime in 2009. Following the scandal-fueled bankruptcy of its producers, the Weinstein Company, it was announced that the series would be back on Bravo for its upcoming 17th season.
With original producer Magical Elves returning, “Bravo is proud to bring Project Runway back where it all began,” said a network spokesperson. “The series will continue its iconic impact with Bravo’s reboot for the next generation of designers and fans.”
Upcoming Project Runway guest judges include Cardi B, Danielle Brooks, designer Dapper Dan, and celebrity stylist Marni Senofonte.
While acknowledging that other beauty companies have welcomed trans and genderqueer models to campaigns and runways, a Victoria’s Secret exec made headlines last year when he defended the iconic brand’s decision not to include trans models in its annual televised Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.
Laverne Cox, who attended the show’s taping, tweeted her support of working trans models “rocking runways all over the world,” including Isis King, Trace Lysette, and Andreja Pejić. “There are so many more that we don’t know about and that we do,” she wrote. “There always have been. Keep slaying ladies!”
Marco Marco made history last fall by exclusively featuring trans models in its runway at New York Fashion Week.
Project Runway returns to Bravo March 14 with a 90-minute premiere.