The highly-anticipated Season 11 premiere of Project Runway happens on Thursday, January 24 at 9/8C, and we're more than a little curious as to how the team concept will turn out. In the first episode, designers will create New York-inspired clothing, all hoping to impress some familiar faces. Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn, and our own Nina Garcia return on the judging panel, with featured judge Zac Posen replacing Michael Kors. Season 4 Project Runway winner Christian Siriano will also join as a guest judge.
Hometown: Nashville, TN
Lives in: Lincoln, NE
Twitter handle: @avvalentine
Design training/schooling: "Bachelor's degree in Clothing and Textile Design from the University of Nebraska."
Strengths as a designer: "I'm always hyper-aware of proportion and line and fit."
Influences: "Every season I draw from international cultures, costume history, and music. I love combining seemingly disparate ideas."
Hometown: Sydney Australia
Lives in: London, England
Twitter handle: @Benjamin_Mach and @NARCISSUSwoman
Design training/schooling: "Four years studying fashion design at Sydney Institute of Technology — Fashion Design Studio, East Sydney Campus."Strengths as a designer: "My attention to detail has always been a strongly recognized element of my work as a designer." Influences: I am constantly inspired by the world around me be it the textiles flying about my studio or a person I see on the street pushing a style that resonates with me."
Hometown: Kent, WA
Lives in: Kent, WA
Design training/schooling: "The Art Institute of Seattle, 2012 graduate, with a bachelor's degree in fashion design."Strengths as a designer: "Strong construction skills, good time-management skills, experience with many textiles and alternative materials." Influences: "Success in life can be aided or even ensured by what we wear. Good clothes improve our lives."
Hometown: Dallas, TX
Lives in: Austin, TX
Design training/schooling: "Self-taught."Strengths as a designer: "Very fashion-intuitive." Influences: "In the past it was by the Hitchcock style and being able to transform it forward. Now it's artists, museums, architecture and music."
Hometown: Richfield, OH
Lives in: Falls Church, VA
Twitter handle: @ecpollard
Design training/schooling: "I have a BFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design."Strengths as a designer: "I'm really driven and not afraid to try things I don't really know how to do." Influences: "I'm inspired by anything and everything. The beauty of fashion is how it can transform the most mundane into something fantastically gorgeous."
Hometown: Dallas, TX
Lives in: Fort Worth, TX
Twitter handle: @BARRONANDJ
Design training/schooling: "The Art Institute, majoring in fashion design."Strengths as a designer: "I design for anyone. And my construction skills are strong." Influences: "I have a rebellious past and love to redefine things."
Hometown: Framington, MA
Lives in: Providence, RI
Twitter handle: @WORLDofJAS
Design training/schooling: "BFA in painting and art history, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. MFA textile design, Rhode Island School of Design."Strengths as a designer: "Risk taker, unconventional thinker and material exploration." Influences: "I'm pretty much inspired by everything, ranging from antiques to rocks to the unknown."
Hometown: Eau Claire, WI & Parkland, FL
Lives in: Chicago, IL
Twitter handle: @ElayaVaughn and @KatePankoke
Design training/schooling: "I graduated from Florida State University's Apparel Design and Technology program."Strengths as a designer: "I have the ability to design artistic garments while still remembering that they are clothing and should be flattering to the wearer." Influences: "I am always inspired by movement, for me it is the most important part of a garment."
Hometown: Valadares, Brazil
Lives in: New York, NY
Design training/schooling: "I started at Katharine Gibbs College in Connecticut. I studied fashion design there for two years, and then I transferred to the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC."Strengths as a designer: "I bring my essence of beauty and confidence to whoever wears my clothes." Influences: "I love to take inspiration from the 1920s and 1950s, but designing for me is really an expression of who I am."
Hometown: Hammond, LA
Lives in: New Orleans, LA
Twitter handle: @matofonet
Design training/schooling: "I am one of those self-taught folks."Strengths as a designer: "When it comes to my work, I have a knack for playing with print, color and alternative materials. Also, I kill it at styling." Influences: "I love a good 3 a.m. girl: textured hair from a night of dancing, still holding on to her makeup with heavy liner and a bold lip color, and clinching onto her cocktail as she travels to the next stop."
Hometown: Portland, OR
Lives in: Portland, OR
Twitter handle: @michelleiswell
Design training/schooling: "I studied printmaking/fine art in college and took classes at my local community college in pattern making and draping."Strengths as a designer: "My strengths are that I am unwavered by trends, I follow my own design aesthetics, I am not afraid of color and texture, and I design for all women." Influences: "I look a lot at vintage clothing, as well as old movies just as much now as I did in my teens, when I started designing."
Hometown: Taos, NM
Lives in: Taos, NM
Design training/schooling: "Institute of American Indian Art, Chicago Art Institute, work with a tailor in Italy."Strengths as a designer: "I approach design from a contemporary Native American view." Influences: "I've recently based my collections on water, circle of life, and eagle feathers. I still look to nature for my inspiration. It calms me in a very busy industry."
Hometown: Sacramento, CA
Lives in: Sacramento, CA
Twitter handle: @rhallmarq
Design training/schooling: "Degree in fashion design/marketing."Strengths as a designer: "I understand my textile of choice and how it falls on a woman's body." First garment ever made: "The first garment I ever made an outfit was similar to the one Cat Glover wore on the back of Prince's 'Sign o the Times' single."
Hometown: Bronx, NY
Lives in: Fairfield, CT
Twitter handle: @sammybdesignsny
Design training/schooling: "Went to Pratt Institute for fashion design and graduated in 2005 with a BFA."Strengths as a designer: "Aesthetic, use of fabrications, and knowing a woman's body." Item most proud of designing: "My rope dress. It stands out, it takes a a lot of time, it's provocative."
Hometown: Lynwood, CA
Lives in: West Hollywood, CA
Twitter handle: @Sudesigns
Design training/schooling: "Otis/Parsons School of Design."Strengths as a designer: "Forecasting very strong, pattern drafting." Influences: "Couture masters like Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent."
Hometown: Nashville, TN
Lives in: Lincoln, NE
Twitter handle: @officialtuera
Design training/schooling: "Parsons the New School for Design with an AAS in fashion studies. Paris American Academy with a B.A. in fashion design (Haute Couture Technique)."Strengths as a designer: "I'm trying to push fashion forward and willing to take a risk." Influences: "Since I love art, most of my design philosophy collaborates with sculpture, architecture and historic paintings."