Two years ago, Jay McCaroll's funky sense of style and a reality show competition won him fifteen minutes of fame–taking the top prize on Bravo's big hit reality series Project Runway—and a brand new hometown. "I feel like everyone should live in New York at least once in their life," says the eclectic McCaroll. "It has an undeniable energy—and on the other end of things, could be very lonely and chaotic. I'm originally from the country so New York has been a pretty big adjustment for me," he admits. "New York is its own planet."
These days, McCaroll's own universe centers around his busy midtown studio and his passion for fashion. "I just went on a TV show. Back then I was also kind of delusional and thought that since I won, I'd get driven around in a car all day. That lasted to about one minute. Now I have to get back to why I got into fashion in the first place—my love of color and fabric. I'm a craftsman."
And in a city that offers the crafty guy every material he can imagine, McCarroll—who digs foreign films at the IFC theater, bubble tea from Chinatown, and prefers hitting the town on Tuesdays rather than the crowded weekend nights—at times Manhattan can be as daunting as it is inspiring. "Sometimes there's almost too much visual stimulation here. You could wake up one day and have the idea to make a pair of white pants, but on your way to work you could see yellow pants, red pants, orange dresses, a jungle print tunic, and by the time you get back to your studio you're exhausted."
For this relatively simple guy, a number of new exciting projects could mean that life is about to get more complicated. With a line debuting under the great white tents of Fashion Week this February and a behind-the-scenes documentary, 11 Minutes, touring the film festival circuit, those 15 minutes of McCarroll's are stretching out. "It's about the whole process of building and designing clothes," he says about the year's worth of filming. "It follows everything from conceptualizing a line, getting money—all the way down to make-up and model casting. It's a grittier Unzipped," says the clearly proud McCarroll. "You work for months on something that lasts for 11 minutes. People think a fashion show lasts an hour, but truthfully it's only 11 minutes. You put so much time and energy into it and it's over in the blink of an eye." Thankfully for us, McCarroll is just getting started.
Read an exclusive interview with Jay McCarroll on the official ontheinside.info blog here.
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