Sixteen designers compete to become "the next great American designer."
With luggage still in tow, the designers are greeted at the TWA Hotel at John F. Kennedy International Airport ready to take flight with their first challenge to create an innovative look inspired by humanity's continued push into space exploration.
Designers must create a fresh take on a timeless classic: animal prints; they take inspiration from the 2019 movie Cats; the designers must tame their prints to create stylish looks that can compete on the runway and in the Flash Sale challenge.
The designers are awakened by a surprise visitor; the designers are challenged to show their holiday spirit in the perfect party dress; channeling their own holiday memories, the designers must transform a winter wonderland into a wearable wonder.
Guest mentor Karla Welch tasks the designers with dressing her client, Karlie Kloss; the designers must recycle donated clothing from a Goodwill store to create their looks, and they must be both resourceful and fast for this one-day challenge.
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The designers must create cohesive mini-collections paying homage to Lauper's 1980s fashion style with a modern take; Christian throws out a mid-challenge twist that changes everything.
The designers are challenged to think about their family histories and channel those stories into a look of their choosing; the stakes are high in this one-day challenge, as the designers must face and embrace who they are in order to succeed.
Collaborations between fashion designers and artists are all the rage; the designers get a chance to enter into one with painter Ashley Longshore whose outrageous pop art gives the runway some of the boldest looks of the season.
The designers face a one-day challenge using sexy, sheer fabrics; staying in the game becomes more and more difficult for several designers who are reaching their personal limits and question their ability to make it to the end.
The challenge is all about turning the tuxedo on its head. Inspired by Christian Siriano's Oscars look for actor Billy Porter, the designers must find a way to take the tuxedo into the future with a mix of male, female, and non-binary models.
Tie-dye is back in a big way, and the designers will need to create their own textiles to elevate the trend from casual to couture. In a twist that may feel more like a trick to the designers, it's an overnight challenge.
Designers are paired with real athletes who are competing to be in the 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the designers need to make their dream outfit for a victory night celebration.
The remaining designers must think big to make an avant-garde look that is extraordinary and in a fashion first, the runway starts with a season long retrospective, outside and 16 stories high, in New York City.
Christian visits the remaining contestants at home as they complete their final collections, but then it's back to the workroom to refine and revise, because even though New York fashion is here, that doesn't mean everybody will show.
The remaining designers hurry to put the final touches on their collections, balancing advice from pros while attempting not to lose their own point of view and it's game, set, match when Serena Williams joins as a guest judge for the final runway.