The new season of Project Runway proves just how far the fashion industry has come. In addition to newbies like host Karlie Kloss, mentor Christian Siriano, and judges Brandon Maxwell and Elaine Welteroth, season 17 (yes, it’s been on TV that long) will introduce the show’s first-ever transgender model.
In a teaser for tonight’s season premiere, model MiMi Tao reveals the milestone to a contestant fitting her into a blue dress. The designer reacts with surprise and delight, bowing to Tao and telling her how honored he is. He then goes on to explain why he feels so inspired by her.
“Me and MiMi come from stories of oppression. Homosexuality is a crime in my country. One day our neighbors called the cops on us and we had to leave our home the very next day. That’s why I feel like there’s so much connection between her and I,” he says.
Clearly, Tao is an important figure for marginalized communities and is bringing much needed diversity to the world of fashion. “I want to change the industry,” Tao says in the video. “I want to inspire all the transgender young generation who have a dream. Keep knocking the door. If they don’t open, the door is going to break one day.”
Slowly but surely, the fashion industry is becoming more and more inclusive. New York’s spring 2019 fashion week featured trailblazing designers and represented an extensive range of colors, sizes, ages, and genders – something that the fashion community has waiting a long time to see. Chromat’s SS19 show featured several trans models while Marco Marco made history with a cast of exclusively transgender models. There was also the Opening Ceremony drag show curated by RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Sasha Velour.
It appears Project Runway is following suit with its diverse lineup of models, contestants, and judges. You can catch Tao on the brand new season of Project Runway, airing tonight, Thursday, March 14 at 8 p.m. EST on Bravo.