The Most Iconic Outfits In Project Runway History

"Project Runway" brought us Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn, our loving godparents of fashion who helped cultivate up-and-coming designers while they learned to "make it work" on a deadline. We saw many fashion fails on the competition show over the years. But there were also many innovative, creative, and absolutely wearable successes from incredibly talented designers. From unconventional prom gowns to avant garde innovations and fall-apart stage outfits to career-launching clothing lines — these iconic looks all made a lasting impression. 

Choosing the most iconic looks from this long-running contest was even more difficult that expected. More than simply picking a season winner, we wanted to share looks that are still exciting and unique years later. Looking back, you might be surprised to see just how much this long-running show and its casts have helped shape the course of fashion. Check out some of the most noteworthy looks from "Project Runway" seasons past below and let us know your favorites, too. 

Wendy Pepper's finale look left a lasting impression

Wendy Pepper is one of the designers who helped launch "Project Runway." She finished in third place on the first season, but Pepper (real name Anne Eustis Pepper Stewart) was a fan favorite, according to Today. She may have been the first "villain" to grace the franchise, but this star still displayed enviable taste and skill with her many looks for both children and adults (via HuffPost). One of Pepper's more memorable looks appeared on the runway in the season finale. 

The look (seen above) seemed like a cross between an upholstered piece of furniture and camo-printed sportswear. Pepper's model sported tousled hair and two simple necklaces that frame a strapless corset featuring ribbons in a criss-cross pattern. The tight shorts were made from an almost Victorian-inspired pattern in shades of army green and were accentuated by a flowing train. 

While Pepper didn't ultimately win the competition, she is still remembered for adding some of the drama that helped launch the franchise. Sadly, the designer died in 2017 at the age of 53 (via Today). While she may be gone, her looks and iconic character will live on in history.

Peytie Slater's backpacks helped girls learn

"Project Runway: Junior" competitor Peytie Slater always delivered. She appeared on the first season of the breakout show in 2015. A Tim Gunn favorite (via Observer), this up-and-comer won her season's fourth challenge by designing a pair of shorts and a tunic. "I went with the loudest print I could possibly find," she admitted of the design secrets (via WWD). Her win came with a prize: the opportunity to team up with Land's End to design a backpack for the Peace Corps' Let Girls Learn initiative, which was backed by then-First Lady Michelle Obama.

The backpack (seen above) is a stunner! Slater's design featured useful, heavy-duty fabrics that represent the Land's End brand utility with pockets and straps any girl could use for school. The print design is a colorful abstract custom-designed by the teenager herself. It represented the initiative's global movement through color-themed representations of the world's continents. 

While she ultimately finished at third place on the show, her Land's End collab impressed both Obama and Gunn. We're look to the future and hearing Peytie's own words: "I'm very excited about the future," she said. "A lot of opportunities have come my way and I'm just going to see where it takes me" (via Baltimore Sun).

Everything Christian Siriano designed is a Project Runway staple

Sometimes a designer is simply too fabulous to highlight only one single look. So we'd like to nominate everything Christian Siriano designed for this honor. Arguably one of the most successful and best-known contestants in "Project Runway" history, he always impressed. He's a Tim Gunn favorite (via Observer) and beloved to judges and audience alike as the Season 4 winner. Siriano's over-the-top personality and distinct phrasings and personal style caught early attention. 

There was a time, however, when these iconic Siriano looks that combine both elegance and high-fashion were perched on the edge of failure. He dressed "Mad Men" star Christina Hendricks for the 2010 Golden Globes, and the reviews were ... not the best (via Observer). But he rallied. Siriano demonstrated the ability to dress anyone as he stepped up for actress Leslie Jones ahead of the 2016 "Ghostbusters" premiere and shortly after was designing for First Lady Michelle Obama (via ELLE). By 2018, Insider described Siriano as creating "glamorous armor" for celebrities. Pretty cool, huh?

While the talent is all his own, we thank "Project Runway" for first introducing us to Siriano's iconic looks.

Erin Robertson's finale look is bananas

This look is bananas — b-a-n-a-n-a-s! That's exactly what edgy designer Erin Robertson of An_Erin fame was going for. Known throughout the competition for her over-the-top looks, Robertson regularly channeled emojis, anime, and bold colors in her designs. Nothing was more surprising, though, than her silver and yellow look for the Season 15 finale in 2016 (via YouTube). 

Her model walked down the runway in a nude top paired with a sharp, short-sleeved jacket and mini-skirt. The jacket and skirt's dazzling silver fabric boasted a custom print of hands holding large bananas in various poses. (Pinky out, anyone?) Robertson paired her attention-grabbing outfit with a slicked-back hairstyle, tinted yellow glasses, and a vibrantly yellow pair of heels. Can you say instant classic? 

A fan on YouTube commended the look and Robertson's collection for being "well-finished" and "high-end worthy." While her looks didn't appeal to everyone, the innovation clearly shone through, as she went on to win the competition (via MoviePhone). She has since launched her own brand which includes clothing design as well as accessories, nail dips, and masks. The designer has also done some museum work and collaborated with the likes of Starburst (via An_Erin). 

Ven Budhu's sweet dress was made from unconventional materials

This dress by Ven Budhu is so sweet. Literally, it's made of candy. Winner of the unconventional materials challenge in Season 10, Budhu's strapless evening gown featured an almost abstract-art-style pattern. It was achieved by using black licorice for outlines and crushed rock candy in white, yellow, pink, and purple. Budhu managed to mimic a stained glass effect (via Racked). Even better, the dress proved wearable for the model, stayed together and actually looked comfortable as she walked. 

Die-hard fans know that's not always a given for unconventional challenges. While Budhu ultimately went on to be eliminated, this unconventional dress lives on. "This was one of the most beautiful dresses ever made on runway. Too bad Ven couldn't get out of his comfort zone and ended up being a one trick pony later on in the competition," one fan wrote in the comments section on YouTube.

"Project Runway" continues to leave an iconic impression on the fashion industry, as do its many competitors, Tim Gunn, and Heidi Klum. Now excuse us while we go binge-watch all our favorites.