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Andy Warhol decreed that 15 minutes of fame was about all one could expect. According to Jay McCarroll, if you’re in fashion, it’s more like 11 minutes. This Friday, the famously catty designer is the subject of a new documentary, “Eleven Minutes,” whose title refers to the approximate length of a runway show. The film follows McCarroll — the winner of the inaugural season of “Project Runway” — as he mounts his first (and last) Bryant Park spectacle in 2006. Two and half years later, McCarroll has created pieces for QVC, has a Web site selling T-shirts and accessories, and plans to put out a line this April. Over a vodka-soda-grapefruit, McCarroll dished with WWD about The Beatles, dairy farms and escaping the New York fashion scene.
This story first appeared in the February 18, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
WWD: How do you feel about the way you’re depicted in this film?
Jay McCarroll: I think it’s good. I think “Project Runway” pigeonholed me into being this quirky, bitchy freak who just had one-liners, but I’m happy that this showed more of the serious business side of me, because I guess I want to be taken more seriously in terms of business. Or I did at that point. Now I could care less. I just want to work at a dairy farm.
WWD: Are you serious?
J.M.: Maybe, I don’t know. I can’t lift heavy things, though.
WWD: So is a dairy farm plan B if fashion doesn’t work out?
J.M.: Probably plan C. Because when you say fashion, it kind of connotes that I would like to be part of this fashion industry in NYC, where I would have to play games and, like, talk to a bunch of a–hole vapid girls I don’t want to talk to. But then there’s the idea of making clothes and being a clothing designer, and I’m more interested in that end of it. I just want to put out products and be the name behind the product.
WWD: You thought the film was great because we saw you dealing with all of the business aspects — and now you don’t care about that?
J.M.: I don’t ever want to do a show like that. It was too stressful. I don’t know how people do it, quite frankly. That whole process of trying to do it every six months, trying to be relevant, trying to be fresh, trying to play the game. Young designers, it’s awful, it’s hard. How are you going to survive unless your father’s rich? Look at Stella McCartney, her father’s a Beatle. My father’s not a Beatle. I’m not a Beatle. I’m Middle America.
WWD: You’re doing T-shirts now, right?
J.M.: I have a line of fabric, actually, cotton prints through Westminster Fibers, so that’s been really good. That just launched this month, so now it’s online, in stores, all over the world. And I want to explore that more and start making patterns with that and products with that…. I mean Diane von Furstenberg went away for a whole decade. Where the f— was she in the Nineties? Nowhere, and then she came back. Calvin Klein doesn’t own his f—ing company. He’s, like, out in the Hamptons somewhere. So things change, it all ebbs and flows.
WWD: So you’re saying this isn’t your time to be producing a full collection, but maybe it will be eventually?
J.M.: Or maybe it won’t be.
WWD: Don’t you want to see your clothes in stores?
J.M.: No. I just want to see them on people.
WWD: How are they going to get on people if they don’t get into stores?
J.M.: I guess…I don’t think about it. That’s why I have a business partner…I’d rather just have my own store. Right now, I want to move to California and just be a beach bum.
WWD: I thought you wanted to be a dairy queen.
J.M.: I am a dairy queen. Maybe I’ll do that, too. I don’t know…. Maybe I have a line of scissors in the next 10 years. Who cares? What it comes down to is, I love fabric and color and texture. I might have a line of interiors. I might be a stylist. I might be a fashion photographer in 10 years, I don’t know. I’m not limiting myself, and I’m never going to. So you’ll see where I go. Or maybe you won’t. And what do you care?