Courtesy of NBC Universal
Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn return as personalities on Bravo’s “Project Runaway,” which premiered last week.

Tim Gunn said the fourth season of “Project Runway” has the strongest group of designers yet. Gunn acts as a mentor and guide to the designers. The fashion reality show which takes 15 contestants through challenges to showcase their fashion designs in hopes of obtaining their own clothing line, premiered Nov. 14 on Bravo.

“This year’s cast are better design technicians, they have great ideas and are overall extremely talented,” said Heidi Klum, host and judge of the three-time Emmy-nominated series in a phone interview.

Gunn credits the high skill of the designers to the growing credibility of “Project Runway.”

“People really see the show as a vehicle for their careers and know that this could be their big opportunity,” said Gunn, who also hosts Bravo’s “Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style.”

Viewers can expect to see designer Michael Kors and ELLE Magazine fashion director Nina Garcia back on the judging panel along with a surprise celebrity judge each week. Klum, who is also the executive producer of “Project Runway,” said the challenges this season are more difficult but are still exciting.

“We always want to take the level of difficulty up because that’s what a challenge is for,” Klum said. “But there are some fun ones like the ‘Clothes Off Your Back’ challenge I came up with last year where the group had to redesign the clothes they were wearing.”

Klum said she and the other judges are looking for who has the most inventive, creative and technical vision for a design.

“We want someone who truly stands out when their design comes down the runway,” Klum said. “I love it when I’m surprised or when we give the contestants $20 or something and they take that and do something spectacular.”

Out of the 15 designers on the show, Gunn, who sees the designers behind the scenes, unlike the judges, said any one of them could possibly win the whole thing. He also said to expect a lot of surprises and drama on the show.

Many of the series’ previous winners have gone on to do tremendous things.

“Chloe Dao (season two winner), has expanded her business in Houston and has been on QVC three times and sold out,” Gunn said. “I saw Jeffrey Sebelia (season three winner), during Fashion Week in New York and his line sold out as well.”

Gunn said the show has made an impact on its audience.

“I was on a airplane and the stewardess was telling me that she wished “Project Runway” would do a challenge for the airlines because she hated her uniform and thought we could do something to change it.

Klum said “Project Runway” has stood out from other reality TV shows since its debut in 2004.

There have been rumors that the show is scripted and contestants are only kept on the show because of their personalities.

“When you look at the level of difficulty in the challenges, you will see that it’s preposterous to think the cast is not chosen based on their talent,” Gunn said.

Gunn, who will have more catchy phrases this season, such as his signature “Make it work,” said “The show is like television crack, once you start watching you get so addicted.”

Heather Hope can be reached at