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"Project Runway" Winner Jay McCarroll's Space Age Spring

Lauren David Peden
September 17th, 2006 @ 10:06 PM - New York

"It went well, I thought," said Jay McCarroll with uncharacteristic understatement after receiving a rousing standing ovation from the devoted followers who turned up in the Atelier at Bryant Park on Friday, September 15th to see what the "Project Runway" season one winner had up his sleeve for his much-anticipated Spring 2007 solo debut, which was sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States.

As it turns out, McCarroll's first foray into fashion's big leagues was not all that different from the winning collection the Pennsylvania native designed for the "Project Runway" finale 18 months ago - and that should be read as the highest of compliments. Cleaving to his own singular, slightly skewed Peggy Moffitt-Goes-To-Mars aesthetic, McCarroll proved that he's more than just a flash in the reality-TV pan with an aggressively mod - and modern - unisex collection that, save for a few sartorial missteps, played to the strengths his fans know and love.

To wit: Colorblocked coats and tunics (for the ladies) and mesh vests over striped tees (for the gents), along with the designer's trademark hip-meets-homespun quilting and patchwork, which showed up on sweaters, tanks and handbags. Graphic prints and wire-and-disc jewelry were inspired by England's late ‘60s/early ‘70s Archigram movement and lent the collection a futuristic feel, while McCarroll's deft touch with color - the guy is a mix master par excellence - kept things grounded in the here-and-now.

While the welder's masks and big, bug-eyed sunglasses and goggles - and even bigger, B-52's-style beehive ‘dos - gave some of the looks an otherworldly feel, the clothing itself was always, for the most part, wearable by folks who reside here on planet earth. Not that anyone but the most diehard fashion hound would ever wear the matching balloon print turtleneck, dress, leggings and handbag all at once, as shown on the runway. But taken separately, any one of these pieces would add cool street cred to jeans or black leggings. And several of the garments - including one elegant white swing coat with a metallic patchwork panel - would look as appropriate on a 70-year-old as they would on a 17-year-old.

Not so a ridiculously proportioned lace blouse with big, cartoony bow and a long, ill-sewn chevron pattern skirt, both of which should have been left on the cutting room floor.

But these are minor quibbles given the creativity and craftsmanship McCarroll displayed in this justifiably well-received outing. He may have taken close to two years to make the transition from "Project Runway" to real world runway, but it was well worth the wait.

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