‘Project Runway’ Sneak Peek: Contestants School One Designer When He Calls His Dress Form ‘Too Fat’

Making it work for all shapes and sizes. In an exclusive sneak peek of the Project Runway season 16 premiere, the contestants get into an intense discussion about plus-size models after one designer referred to his dress form as “too fat.”

In the clip, ChaCha is discussing a short dress with sleeves he’s working on. “My form is also too fat, like so fat, so it’s different,” he said.

Project Runway
Project Runway

Sentell McDonald explains, “Well, we have to use another word than fat.” ChaCha suggests “oversized,” while McDonald offers up “curvy.”

Kenya Freeman chimes in, “I call them plus-size, I call them curvy, I call them bootylicious.” Ayana Ife adds, “I don’t have any personal feelings toward the wording, as long as a plus-size model is not seen as a problem-sized model.”

For the time in the show’s history, the aspiring designers will use models who range from size 0 to 22 to showcase their designs for all body types throughout the entire season instead of for one-off challenges.

For the show’s sweet 16 season, Heidi Klum will return as host, Tim Gunn will serve as a mentor and Marie Claire’s creative director Nina Garcia and designer Zac Posen will judge the contestants’ work. 

Gunn, 64, has been incredibly vocal about how the fashion industry lacks options for plus-size women. “Despite the huge financial potential of this market, many designers don’t want to address it,” he wrote in an essay for The Washington Post last year. “It’s not in their vocabulary. Today’s designers operate within paradigms that were established decades ago, including anachronistic sizing.”

As previously reported, Avon has signed on as a brand new beauty sponsor for this season. Avon makeup artist Hector Simancas exclusively spoke to Us Weekly about creating all the model’s looks. “Basically, I’m creating things in the moment. One of the amazing parts is I don’t know anything about what is happening in the episode,” he said. “I have no idea what the challenge is about. So the designers are coming to me, and they have four minutes to give me the ideas and talk about it, and I have to create a look.”

Simancas added that some of the designers were more opinionated, while others trusted his professional advice. “There was a little bit of argument between a designer and me about a look. He didn’t agree with what I suggested. But in the end it’s a competition, so it’s their look,” he told Us. “I can suggest and I can be part of the whole idea. I always try to guide them to the best look that I think can fit the clothing. But I have to give them what they want.”

Project Runway season 16 premieres on Lifetime Thursday, August 17, at 8 p.m. ET.

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