Jay McCarroll. Where do I begin? I don’t think I laughed so hard in years. It may have been one of the most entertaining interviews ever. Jay McCarroll is everything you don’t expect a reality series winner to be. He is down to earth, easy to talk to and approachable. As with anyone, Jay has his quirks and peeves, but he remains, at the core, a designer. With the end of season 1 of “Project Runway,” Jay relocated to New York and has a studio in the Garment District where he is working on his collection that will show in the Spring Collections this fall. I had the pleasure of meeting and talking to Jay after the Heatherette show at fashion week. At that time, I remarked how genuine he was. Things like that become the opposite of the norm when dealing with a sea of “plastic” industry people. Needless to say, he was the same Jay when I spoke to him for this interview. He was just like the guy we saw on his Bravo show “Project Jay,” honest, funny and down to earth. Enter Jay.
PD: As a designer, what do you think of the whole fashion Internet blog craze?
Jay: It’s kind of off the hook, isn’t it? With information comes misinformation, so it’s great to have all that information out there and to have an account of the Heatherette show while it is going on with secret camera phone pictures and stuff. I think it is great because people want that information, I want to know what people are showing within five minutes of them showing. I mean, what’s next? Are they going to put telepathic sensors in people’s brains so Richie Rich’s thought pattern will be on the blog next?
But it is also a shame because it’s over once it hits the airwaves, there is no more mystery, no more anticipation, everybody is commenting on it and it’s clouded with opinions. Like with the “Project Runway.” They showed on Friday morning and by Friday afternoon the pictures were up and everybody had already made their decision who won instead of the normal way of lets wait three weeks and then pick the winner.
It’s good for information, but not for mystery and it doesn’t seem good for the magazine industry. Why publish a photo in “Vogue” when it’s been all over the internet? I mean, will magazines eventually be obsolete? Who knows?
PD: I think people need the tactile contact with the magazine. Basically being able to see all the big glossy ads and what not.
Jay: It’s true, but people don’t want the ads and complain about them flipping through them waiting for the first pictorial. But that’s how you sell the magazine, that’s how you sell the clothes, that’s how you get the name out there. Things are the way they are because they work the best way they can.
PD: It seems like the ad campaigns are the pictorials now. I was reading a magazine the other day and the magazine itself had, like, two pictorials of five or six pictures and then there were pages of extensive ad campaigns for maybe just one designer.
Jay: There is definitely more ads. It’s all about money, everything comes back to money and how much I don’t have.
PD: What was the first thing you ever designed?
Jay: I don’t remember. I was young. I would always make weird costumes for myself and dance in them on the front yard. I made this one weird one, I guess I was about 12 or something, maybe 14, still too young and too big to be doing what I was doing. But I made this costume that had a padded head band, but it also had like a tunic and pants that had a piece of fabric on the inseam so when you did a high kick, it looked like a skirt. What a fag. My parents must of hated me growing up. They must of have said ‘uh why is Jay such a faggot?’
PD: What’s been your greatest challenge so far?
Jay: Probably streaming it all out. I mean, I didn’t work in the industry right after college. I just did my own thing so what I know about business I taught myself, but I guess winning the show and the natural progression of things is leading me to a much bigger picture in business. Just learning all the intricacies of business and production and manufacturing and branding and contracts and what are you putting your name on, licensing, etc. Who is getting control and what percentage are they getting? Will I be left like Tommy Hilfiger and get bought out by Tommy Hilfiger Europe? And how does that even happen, and what does that even mean? Your own company just buys you out in a different region, seems a little out of control. So it’s all the intricacies in business because the design comes easy and coming up with an idea for a collection is always the most fun and simplest thing I can do, and also trying to figure out the sane end of the industry, the human side. Trying to figure out who the fuck am I all at the same time. Because it’s been a weird year, I mean it’s not normal to be on the subway and someone just starts taking pictures of you with their camera phone. And that’s the weirdest part of my day when I’m public property. And my sex life has completely gone to shit.
PD: Really? Your sex life is gone as a result?
Jay: It is and that has a lot to do with me as well because I don’t want people to be like “yeah I screwed Jay he’s hung like a mouse.” Whatever, I don’t need that shit to be getting spread around in my circles. I don’t take advantage of things at all. If I go to a club, I still wait in line, I don’t try to get free drinks, I don’t try to get free sex either.
If you could design an outfit for anybody living or dead who would it be?
Jay: Oh God, I don’t really give a shit, people are all obsessed about who they can dress. I‘d rather see a bunch of different people wearing my stuff, normal people. I mean, if I saw anybody on the street in my stuff I’d be excited about it. I don’t really follow anyone like that. The only person I like is Amy Sedaris, and she’s not a huge celebrity, she just had some weird show on comedy central, but she is funny as shit. Sarah Silverman, who I love, I’d love for her to rock one of my t-shirts. Just easy casual people. I mean how hard would be to work with _______ _______? Uh could you just break that about half an inch above my hip bone because it makes my hip bone look fat. Just shut up and have a burger already, I don’t feed into that shit and I don’t care. I don’t care about the new face of Chanel and I think that Mary-Kate and Ashley are cool, but I don’t necessarily want to dress them. I think Selma Blair is cool, Kate Blanchet, but I don’t necessarily want to dress them. Why is fashion so obsessed with celebrities? It’s so stupid.
PD: That’s one of the questions we ask in this month’s issue.
Jay: I don’t know either. When you meet them they are just like you, they’re human beings. What because they are in movies? It’s called acting, everybody acts and I act every time I have an orgasm. We place such an emphasis on that and I don’t really think that it is important. I mean, for evening wear, designers who design red carpet stuff, I mean, is so much to say that I’m a street wear designer? I design for real people. So many designers say ‘oh you made it once you hit the red carpet,’ and I was a fool to that, I mean you saw it on Project Jay and I thought that that was going to be my in but it’s not, especially if your hearts not there. It’s definitely good exposure for evening wear designers, but for me I need Paris Hilton bopping around Greece with one of her slimey boyfriends in one of my hoodies. The Red carpet is just not for me because I’m a street wear designer.
PD: After the whole “Project Runway” experience, what was it like filming “Project Jay?”
Jay: Much easier and much more informed because with “Project Runway” we just showed up and there were cameras there, you couldn’t talk to the camera guys and then a few months later there was a TV show made. And I don’t know how it got there, maybe robots made it. I don’t fucking know, but with “Project Jay” it was much more intense and it was only four of us. So it was just a very small team of people and we were very into it and we had orgies every day after wrapping. I’m kidding. But I also learned the process of how a TV show gets made. The rough cuts, executive decisions and this needs to be longer, this needs to be shorter. Is this how we want it to look? And I had to be involved because my name was on the project, and I sat in the editing room the whole time and I pity the fool who is an editor of a show because it is a lot of work. They hang on every word, every emotion, because you have a specific timeline that you need to fulfill to make a show. Each segment has to be 13.1 seconds. It’s just weird. Just watching how a TV show gets built is an interesting process, and how much money it takes and who is paying for Jay’s lunch.
PD: What reality show needs to be taken off the air?
Jay: I hate that “Bachelor” bullshit. I mean, do you really think you’re going to find love on a TV show, in Paris? I mean it sounds romantic and all, but it’s so fucked up. Those people are so fucked up. “The Bachelor” sucked. I love a lot of them, I love “The Real World,” I love “Sweet Sixteen,” “The Surreal Life,” “Celebrity Fit Club.” Oh, I hate “The Flava of Love.” The worst is “Being Bobby Brown.” I mean, it’s entertaining, but I’m not learning anything from it. At least on like “The Biggest Loser,” which is the most inspiring, it makes me cry. At least they’re doing something for somebody, but what is “The Flava of Love” doing other than annoying the crap out of me?
PD: I always say I feel sorry for the chick that finds out that he is broke after all this.
Jay: (Impersonates Flav) Now I’m going to pick my winners, which includes cleaning up after me, making me dinner and trying to find my ass a job.
PD: What advice would you give someone going into design?
Jay: I don’t know, good luck? I mean, it’s a fun life, it’s colorful, interesting, there are so many different aspects of it. Anyone going into it just try to find your niche. If you are technical, try to go into technical design. There is plenty of need for you. If you are creative, try to be as creative as possible, the people on season two didn’t take into account that they were offered a huge opportunity. I mean, I get e-mail from Argentina, Singapore and Hong Kong, New Zealand. I mean, that show gets shown every where. It’s an opportunity for you to show your best work to the world. A lot of those people were trying to be fake and just get by, even in the final collections. But if you’re going with the work force try to go with what you know. I don’t know, I took an off path, because I didn’t work for anyone out of the gate. So, follow your heart, follow your dreams and that’s anybody in this world, not just a designer. I mean, if you’re in school for bio-chemistry and you want to be an event planner, be an event planner. You have your whole life to be different things. But you don’t take the opportunity and before you know it, you’re testing eye drops on rabbits in a lab when you’d rather be throwing weddings for people. Where there’s a will there’s a way. I mean, for me, it took me 10 years to do this. Don’t give up, persistence is key.
PD: What inspires you the most?
Jay: All sorts of things, everything. You never know when things are going to pop up. I can get feeling out of music, I could do an entire collection based on the whopper. Did you see the Burger King commercial for the Whopperettes?
PD: During the Superbowl?
Jay: They totally made a collection of clothes based off onions. I mean I know that they’re costumes. But it just proves that you can boil down, no pun intended, an onion. You know the part of the onion that you pull back and it’s sheer and slimy? I‘ve seen rain wear like that, and you can make a rain slicker over something white with stripes or pleated and you can make a top with some sort of white pant or you can do a red onion that has that sort of purple and white theme and you can create a 20 piece collection based off of that. Just proving that anything can be inspiring, and take anything and dissect it and make something out of it and that’s design.
PD: Although you won “Project Runway,” did you ever think that you shouldn’t have won it or wish that you could do something different?
Jay: No, whatever happens, happens. For me it wasn’t about winning. I just have happened to have won. I didn’t take the prize money,so, I’m not really financially above anyone else that was on that show. I would have played the game exactly the same and I’m no better off than any of the other contestants. There are people that got eliminated early in the show that are fantastic designers. Nora is in WWD because she designed the relaunch of this line and she’s getting great attention for it and she’s a fantastic designer and she makes great, cool stuff. Kevin is an awesome designer, Kara Saun is a great designer. Everyone was on that show for a reason, and everyone had their own vision. I have no right to comment on someone else’s work.
PD: Have you ever solved Rubik’s Cube?
Jay: Hell no! I am not smart like that. I’m a designer, I ain’t no scientist.
PD: What was your high school GPA, and were you the artsy type?
Jay: GPA? I was never a stand out student. I never failed things but who gives a ***. I was concentrating on other things.
PD: And, were you the artsy type?
Jay: What do you think? I was making costumes with a skirt on the inside and dancing around my front yard. Do you think I was artsy? Dumb question. Of course I was artsy, and in high school it comes with such a stigma. You’re weird, you’re freaky, you’re alternative and then you go out in the real world and you’re fucking cool. My friends from high school who were like football players came to my “Project Jay” premier and they used to think the stuff was weird and now it’s cool.
PD: Did you have a Mohawk in high school?
Jay: Hell no, I was not punk. All my friends listened to The Cure and Morrissey and I was kind of hung up on other things. I don’t remember what I listened to. I remember being into the Pet Shop Boys, which is soooo gay.
PD: what was your most embarrassing moment?
Jay: In my whole life? I don’t know, who thinks of those things? I never really thought about that. I don’t really have embarrassing moments. I think if I was like putting myself out there to be embarrassed, like maybe going to the Grammy awards and I decided to forgo wearing a tuxedo and instead wear a towel and someone came up and ripped the towel off of me and then I’m naked on stage trying to present an award. But all the rest of that little stuff is just like, you can’t get embarrassed over that dumb life shit. I’m embarrassed that I was ever born!
PD: What makes you most happy?
Jay: Free time. I love sleep time, laying-around-on-a-Sunday time, stuffing-my-face-full-of-good-food time, chicken finger, French fry time. I enjoy free time.
PD: Tell us something shocking about yourself.
Jay: I am actually Nicolette Sheridan. I’m serious, we split our time. Nothing really shocking about me.
PD: How much of project runway is re
Jay: All of it.
PD: It’s all real?
Jay: You’re in such a concentrated place, and they’re filming everything. There were two cameras pointed at my bed every night, looking at me while I slept. There is so much information. Of course, there are people like Wendy Pepper who will act up for the camera, but that was her decision. No one told her to act like that. Santino acts up. He knows the camera is there. The crew hardly ever talks to you. It really is very real. I was never told to say anything, ever.
PD: Do they edit it fairly?
Jay: Oh they edit it whacked. I was much more of a bitch-face on the show and the made me this funny loveable guy. On the flip side of it is what you saw on “Project Jay” which is me as a human being and I do talk normal at times and I’m extremely vulgar. They showed Kara Saun and she does have fun moments and is laughable, but they showed her to be serious and professional. Starr, the lawyer, who is very funny, they only showed her crying. They show you what they want to show you.
PD: When will your collection be out? When can we go to the store and purchase something by Jay?
Jay: Well I am showing in September so in stores next spring. And what does it look like? I ain’t going to tell you, but it will be men’s and women’s, so be prepared! Get out your debit card.
You can take a look at Jay’s Web site at http://www.jaymccarroll.com