Lifetime’s Project Runway is back in New York City for season eight, premiering on July 29, 2010 at 9 p.m., with even longer episodes (90 minutes!) and a few other exciting changes. Seventeen designers have braved the summer heat (instead of the usual 16 contestants), with high hopes of showing off their collections at New York Fashion Week in the fall. With longer episodes, viewers will gain much more insight into what goes on in both the workroom and when the judges are discussing whose collections were and were not successful.

There are a few more changes on the horizon for this season to look forward to. A pregnant Nina Garcia, who is due in December; Bluefly replacing Piperlime; providing plenty of accessories to style the contestants looks; and an appearance by Selma Blair, the latest celeb judge to appear on the show. The season will be filled with plenty of drama, including medical mishaps, stress, and sensitivity, and of course tons of cutting edge fashion as the contestants sew their hearts out to make it through each challenge.

April Johnston, who is the youngest contestant (21 years old), is from North Carolina and a recent grad of fashion design at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. Johnston took the time to give Blast a sneak peak into what to expect this season, including more about her life and fashion influences:

BLAST MAGAZINE: You started off by designing your own prom dress, which is what lead you to where you are today. What did it look like? Do you still have pictures of it?

APRIL JOHNSTON: It was a black corset with a lace up pink ribbon and a long circle skirt of gathered layers of pink tulle. I do still have a picture of it!

BLAST: What was your first impression of Heidi Klum?

AJ: My first impression of Heidi Klum was that she was as beautiful in person as she looks in magazines and on TV.

BLAST: Who did you most relate with out of your fellow contestants?

AJ: Peach was one of my best friends on the show but I really had a lot in common with Ivy and AJ as well.

BLAST: Was your experience on the show what you expected?

AJ: Somewhat. I feel that the show made me a stronger person and also the public has no idea how hard we designers have to work and how hard this experience can be at times!

BLAST: When Tim would advise you on how to "make-it-work," would you stick to your "Gunn’s" or immediately make changes?

AJ: Sometimes I would notice things within the design that I was unsure of and would discuss with Tim about removing them or changing them around and he would encourage me to “edit” and that is something I really learned from Tim Gunn, is to edit myself. One time I didn’t listen to him and it didn’t “work” out very well, so yes you should always keep “making it work” in mind!

BLAST: You are said to be inspired by dark images like decaying asylums and morgues. How do you portray this in your fashion pieces?

AJ: I use the contrast of hard and soft and pull inspiration from these images by looking to texture and imagery and incorporating them into style lines and fabric textures.

BLAST: What is the most memorable costume or outfit you have seen on Lady Gaga, one of your favorite style icons?

AJ: In the “Bad Romance” music video, she is wearing an Alexander Lee McQueen futuristic textured outfit.

BLAST: You seem to be a quite outdoorsy, down to earth girl. What would people be surprised to know about you?

AJ: That I love camping with my family and I used to ride horses, ride 4-wheelers and go hunting with my grandfather.

BLAST: You also have a love for cooking and food and must have enjoyed all NYC has to offer. What is your favorite recipe to cook at home? And fave restaurant in the area?

AJ: My favorite recipe to cook at home is Salmon in lemon butter with asparagus. Hands down favorite restaurant in savannah is The Distillery! They have the best crab cake sandwich around!

BLAST: If you are the winner of Project Runway, what can we expect from you in the future?

AJ: The fashion industry is my playground, I am young and ready to work to be successful, so you will surely see me grow and develop into a great designer.

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