In Project Runway designers compete against one another in weekly design challenges held at the Parsons New School For Design in New York City.
Eager to give aspiring designers a chance to break into the notoriously difficult-to-crack fashion world, supermodel Heidi Klum heads a panel of industry luminaries, including top women's and men's wear designer Michael Kors and Elle Magazine fashion director Nina Garcia, who serve as judges and industry mentors charged with selecting and moulding the budding designers.
The judges eliminate one contestant each week until only three top performers remain. The final three face off during New York's Olympus Fashion Week in February.
There are also guest judges each week based on the specific challenge. Tim Gunn, Chair of the Parsons The New School For Design, guides the contestants through each of their challenges.
The winning designer walks away with $100,000 in seed money to help them launch their own line, as well as other prizes which vary from season to season.
Project Runway takes place in New York City with designers using a workroom at Parsons School of Design, shopping for materials at a fabrics store in New York's Garment District, and living together at Atlas New York (an apartment building near Parsons).
At the beginning of each challenge, the designers are given the outlines of their assignment, usually to create a garment from non-traditional materials, such as recycled materials or items from a grocery store, or to design for a certain person (such as figure skater Sasha Cohen or Miss USA Tara Conner), corporate fashion line, or specialised theme.
The designers are given a stipend and limited amount of time to finish each garment. Often the designers work independently, although on some challenges contestants must work in teams.
Once the deadline is reached, the designers must dress their models and select their hair, make-up, and accessories.
Each model walks down the runway, and the garment the contestant made is judged by a panel of judges. The judges then interview the designers and share their opinions before conferring as a group and selecting winning and losing designers.
Generally, the loser of each challenge is eliminated from the competition.