Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Eleven Minute Coda

Paul: Jay McCarroll walks into a small office, a high end New York restaurant for a magazine interview, a busy dressmaker's room to talk to the serious middle aged man in a white tanktop who is going to construct his clothes, a New York fashion week tent.  Jay is wearing sunglasses so large that they make him look like he has insect eyes.  The lapel of his blazer is speckled with novelty buttons with humorous slogans on them.  He wears a hot pink tie and sneakers.  He has made his hair into a pompadour.  He is dancing, joking, swearing.  He is a mess of insecurity.  He also has everything planned out.  He disarms you from the suspicion that he is an intrepid businessman.  He appears to take nothing seriously, but the arch of his story reveals that, in fact, he took it all seriously.

Completely by coincidence, we find ourselves back at New York Fashion Week in our project even as the actual 2011 New York Fashion Week goes on in New York.  Let's not get too excited.  Considering how often we talk about fashion week, it was inevitable.

Our first venture into the other sections of the Project Runway DVD menu was the curious category of "Where Are They Now."  It began with a section chronicling Jay's immediate reward for having won the season's contest: a photoshoot in Elle. In a bit of foreshadowing, Jay and we are disappointed.  The photographer does not want to accept Jay's vision.  The dresser wants to mix and match his design with other clothing, essentially destroying his vision.  In short, it took about 30 seconds for people to start scuttling Jay's work.  And then the "spread," which Jay and we had imagined as 12 pages of full page photographs, turns into one page with a short interview with Jay and maybe three photographs, one of which is of Jay himself.

What is not mentioned anywhere on the Project Runway disc is that Jay declined the $100,000 prize and the Banana Republic mentorship because of a clause which would give 10% of profits from Jay's designs IN PERPETUITY to Project Runway.

Laurie:  I love that story! The part where Jay's artistic and personal integrity will not allow the quick buck to blind him to the future costs.  Accepting that money would marry him to Project Runway for the rest of his career. Some might be willing to live with that. He was not, and he followed his conscience.

Paul: We finished the final disc of season 1 and somehow I became aware of a small art film from 2006 or thereabouts which was a documentary on Jay's first post-Project Runway New York Fashion Week show.  It's called Eleven Minutes.

There's a lot to be said, sure sure.  It's a very interesting look into what goes into a fashion week runway show as well as the predicaments which face a new designer.  Jay's collection is wonderful.  We wish it would end up in stores, but it doesn't really aside from a few scraps snapped up by Urban Outfitters (who would have been the perfect match for his looks.)  In the end, we are bowled over by the fantastic collection, but Jay seems to be living in some parallel universe where the world surrounding him seems entirely unmoved.  That was 2006.  In 2011, Jay is still designing.  He has a tie for sale on his website that I desperately want.  He has a line of fabric.  I really like his line of fabric. 

I find myself a little sad at the end of all of the Season 1 material.  I have doubts that anyone coming will capture my imagination like Jay has.  First there are all of the aforementioned aspects to his character: his insecurities, his humor, his strong work ethic.  There is also the fact that I have yet to see a piece of film in which he bites the hand that fed him.  I think the PR lady in the movie compared it to "child-star syndrome."  He would have to rise above his initial fame source to sustain for a career.  I look at Jay in the video above and he is older, thinner, and completely able to communicate a very good product.

Jay has a career and is supporting himself with his work which is about as good as it gets.  I hope he is very happy because he has brought a lot of beauty into this world.  But Jay is forever linked to a very short and unconventional time in his life which catapulted him from young unknown to forever chained to Project Runway.

Laurie:  I hadn't thought of it that way.  He's still married to the show in spite of turning down his prize money. I suppose, though, that $100,000 is not nearly as precious as integrity, not to mention what that would add up to over the course of his career.

Paul: At this point in my life, I look at Jay's story and wonder how much control we actually have.  To what will The Fates tie us?  So many of us find our adult lives on paths that we either didn't particularly choose or are the result of capricious choices when we were younger.  We try so hard to express ourselves with art, entertainment, the promotion of things that we love, and the people we surround ourselves with.  But in the end, regardless of how we clothe ourselves, we are all so much under the dictates of circumstance.  I suppose, faced with the great equalizer of the graveyard, what ends up mattering is what we do within our circumstances.  Jay has chosen to work hard and focus on creating beauty.

Laurie:   The way I see it, what matters dearest in the end is who we were as we did what we did within our circumstances. One man fills his world with life, love, honesty, and integrity while doing nothing more beautiful than digging ditches, or cleaning toilets. Another creates art and wealth, filling the world with beauty and treasures while walking the path of greed, self-seeking, and trampling of souls. Both men
enter the grave alone. Their ditches and toilets, their masterpieces of art, music, and architecture must remain behind. They are left in the end with nothing but the men that they became.

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