Project Runway is now moving back to Bravo with season 4 winner Christian Siriano replacing Tim Gunn, and Karlie Kloss replacing Heidi Klum. But this switchover will not happen before one last Project Runway: All Stars finale on Lifetime. What has become of the original 16 Project Runway designers? Here is part one of our series on the previous Project Runway winners.
Project Runway Season 1 Winner: Jay McCarroll
For the many viewers who watched the new Bravo show in 2005, Austin Scarlett may have been the most memorable designer. Although he was parodied on SNL, it was Jay McCarroll that won over the judges. He showcased a runway of headphone-wearing models wearing his modern, technicolor street style, that included patchwork quilted clothes. He wowed the first season’s judges, which included Michael Kors, Nina Garcia, Heidi Klum, and guest judge Parker Posey.
Immediately after winning, the talented designer ran into huge obstacles. First, Jay skipped the $100,000 that came with the Project Runway win because of an expensive stipulation. Then, he filmed a single episode Bravo show. This show followed the designer around, as he created an Emmy Awards gown for Heidi. Not typically a gown designer, Jay struggled to make the garment. In the end, his first big red carpet opportunity was squashed. Heidi’s style squad rejected it.
Soon, Jay returned home to work. He taught at Philadelphia University. He also designed textiles and sold his clothing online. Then in September 2016, McCarroll moved back to New York City, stating on social media that he was still looking for his “dream job.”
PR Season 2 Winner: Chloe Dao
In a fight to the finish, Texas-based fashion designer Chloe Dao was the second season winner, with Debra Messing as guest judge. Dao’s feminine and practical take on women’s clothing, including pockets in delicate baby doll dresses, that impressed the judges.
Dao took the $100,000 and returned right back to Houston. She started her own label, DAO, Chloe DAO, and opened a Houston boutique. She also made regular appearances on QVC. Now, Dao is active in her community. She is dressing models and local clientele like Taahirah O’Neill, Shaq’s daughter. The designer has even been a judge on Project Runway: Vietnam.
Season 3 Winner: Jeffrey Sebelia
By the third season of Project Runway, the show was desperate to have a superstar. Tattooed bad boy Jeffrey Sebelia came on the show and played his reality show character as a jerk. He was so harsh, he even made another designer’s visiting mom cry. He nearly didn’t make it to Olympus Fashion Week, as Laura Bennett accused him of cheating. In the end, he sent down an uncharacteristic, but beautiful collection. The judges, along with Wall Street Journal fashion writer and guest judge, Teri Algins, picked Sebelia to win it all.
After the show aired, Sebelia became the rock star designer. He dressed Gwen Stefani, Madonna, Marilyn Manson, JLo, and the late Chester Bennington. He traveled around the world, dressing edgy celebrities. Soon, he designed clothes for Bratz dolls and four separate labels including the successful children’s label, La Miniatura. He returned to television to compete on Project Runway: All Stars season 3.
Christian Siriano – Project Runway Season 4 Winner
Christian Siriano has by far been the most successful designer in the history of Project Runway. The youngest winner infamously was rejected by the Fashion Institute of Technology. Instead, he went across the pond to study in London. He eventually interned for both Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen prior to competing on the Bravo reality show.
On the show, Christian quickly became a fan favorite. He finished his elegant and breathtaking garments with tremendous speed. This meant he had plenty to say to the kiss-and-cry cameras, including his favorite word “fierce.” After he showed his classic collection in the runway finale, he even made guest judge Victoria Beckham smile.
We opened a beautiful new store this year and we can’t believe it’s almost 2019! Thank you to everyone who shopped at @TheCuratedNYC_ and we hope to see you this week and next year! pic.twitter.com/rpwbqFJ0I2
— Christian Siriano (@CSiriano) December 27, 2018
Christian Siriano: Top American Fashion Designer
After his win, Christian released a shoe collection with Payless. Although there was plenty of snickering by elite fashionistas, it was at Payless that Siriano really learned about the business of fashion and how to build his brand. Soon, Siriano was dressing celebrities from Victoria Beckham and First Lady Michelle Obama, as well as actresses like Viola Davis and Christina Hendricks.
Unlike other fashion houses who prefer to dress size 2 actresses, Christian has been dressing all ages and body types. His willingness to dress “real women” has made his brand take off. According to E! Online, he is the most successful designer in Project Runway history, perhaps even one of the most successful young American designers in the world.
Christian Siriano recently completed filming Project Runway for Bravo. He is the new mentor, replacing Tim Gunn. The scarce few who watched the Tim Gunn show, Project Runway: Under the Gunn understand his new challenge. Christian will need to gently guide a confused designer in the workroom, without telling them what to do. He has been a competitor and judge, so now it should be interesting to see how he approaches mentorship.
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