Battle of the Runways on Aug 15, 2013: The Night I Met Jay McCarroll

Anybody who really knows me knows that Project Runway is my crack.

So, when I was trolling the Lifetime TV's Project Runway blog, I noticed this post, and naturally I "HAD TO" attend. 

Meet Season 1 Winner Jay McCarroll at Hamilton Mall

By laurareineke WED., JUN. 26, 2013 ,3:54 PM EDT
Jay McCarroll named Fashion Ambassador of Hamilton MallThe original "Project Runway" champ, Jay McCarroll, has been named Fashion Ambassador for Hamilton Mall, the largest indoor mall in all of Atlantic and Cape May counties in New Jersey.
Jay will help the mall celebrate an extensive redesign and redevelopment program with a number of special events, including a back-to-school themed "Battle of the Runways" in August. He'll be designing a special T-shirt for the mall, as well as writing an interactive column for their monthly newsletter. And he's kicking it all off with ameet and greet this Friday, June 28, at Never Too Spoiled, the mall's exclusive carrier of Jay's design.
"This is an awesome opportunity for me," Jay says. "I am really looking forward to being a part of the mall's expansion and in taking the mall's image to the next level. It really is going to be a special shopping destination for the area."
For more info on how to meet Jay, check out
My curiosity was further piqued when I saw this post:

Jay McCarroll, with his dog Vernon and his collection of 1960s hairdo portraits he found at a vintage shop in South Philly. (MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer)

Jay McCarroll won the first season. Still designing, he's also a mall ambassador.

POSTED: July 18, 2013

The Hamilton Mall in Mays Landing, N.J., isn't so far from Lincoln Center in New York. Yet in spirit, the mall that just welcomed a new Forever 21 and the site of the most prominent fall and spring fashion weeks in the country are a million miles apart.
Philadelphia designer Jay McCarroll, 38, winner of Project Runway's first televised competition in 2005, knows about that distance better than anyone. Eight years ago, his colorful techno-bohemian couture was expected to make him an industry superstar. It didn't. He's OK with that.
These days, he's selling his own fabric and designing a self-named line out of a South Philly studio - from T-shirts to greeting cards, eyeglasses to scarves - and last month, he was named Hamilton Mall's ambassador, a role that has him selling his wares at the Never Too Spoiled shop, hosting catwalk events, and overhauling both the mall's image and his own.
"We're going to rebrand together," he says with a laugh. "People still recognize me from Runway. I love the show. It's just time that I got to be Jay McCarroll."
As Project Runway debuts its 12th season Thursday, many bloggers and fashionistas still wonder why McCarroll didn't become the next Zac Posen or Vivienne Westwood. And, McCarroll admits, teaching at Philadelphia University (his alma mater when it was Philadelphia College of Textiles & Science) and working at a mall were never his life's ambitions.
Yet, McCarroll stresses that he isn't just about fashion. He is an artist, and he wouldn't mind being the next Martha Stewart and Kate Spade - houseware and accessory goddesses.
"We've had a great time working with Jay," says Megan Brewster, who, with Erin Waxman, owns Northern Liberties' Art Star Gallery & Boutique and its spring Art Star Craft Bazaar on Penn's Landing. When they approached him about doing a trunk show at their store, the day was spent brainstorming ways to collaborate on projects that would enhance the local design scene. McCarroll will soon contribute a custom quilt and pillows to a forthcoming exhibition that Art Star will host in collaboration with DesignPhiladelphia, called Farmhaus & Friends.
Whether it's selling his goods at craft fairs or doing meet-and-greets, he views each opportunity as a way to get closer to his goals. ("I'd love to design Kleenex boxes," he says.)
"I'm sure there are people going 'Ha, he's at a mall,' but I'm a mall kid," says McCarroll, recalling his childhood of painting rocks with four sisters and one brother in Lehman, Luzerne County. "I'm not Marc Jacobs. I've never been a Fifth Avenue person. People believe that they know what I should be doing, but based on what? That it's a shame I'm not designing for Julia Roberts or some star? Julia Roberts isn't paying for those clothes, and that's no way to make money. The red carpet is not for me and never has been. It's all smoke and mirrors."
And reality-show appearances are no proof of success, McCarroll has learned, especially considering he also appeared on Bravo'sProject Jay (he headed to New York City to market his fashion line) and VH1's Celebrity Fit Club (he lost weight for charity).
Right out of the Project Runway gate, McCarroll was at a bit of a disadvantage: He rejected a clause in his contract - and with it, the prize money - that allowed the show's producers a 10 percent stake in any of his professional endeavors, in perpetuity. (Apparently, that clause has since been removed.)
But without the money, McCarroll had to get cash - difficult for an artist unschooled in matters of finance.
"Literally overnight, you see yourself being called the next great American designer, and you think, 'Maybe I could be that,' " says McCarroll. "There were people promising me $40 million and all I could think was whoa, hold on." Without any business infrastructure in place, he felt nervous accepting so much money - especially because he'd owe them more later.
There was also a matter of his self-esteem. Despite the invitations to the best celeb parties (he happily recalls Debbie Harry's 2006 birthday bash with Lindsay Lohan and Nile Rogers), he didn't feel confident.
"I'd shoot Project Runway promos with the director telling me to look into the camera and say 'I'm a winner.' I didn't feel comfortable saying that because I'm not a competitive person. I joked to myself that I'm a loser."
He did debut a spring 2007 collection during the September 2006 New York Fashion Week, his line sponsored by the Humane Society because his clothes are cruelty-free - no fur, no leather, no wool. Although none of the pieces from that collection sold, "lots of interest came from it, like selling to Urban Outfitters and QVC."
By then, it was too little, too late, especially after New York magazine published "The Near-Fame Experience," a 2007 story saying he was homeless.
In reality, McCarroll said, he was transitioning from living in Lehman near his ailing father to a New York studio where he often slept. He eventually had fun with that characterization by making a YouTube video of himself lying in the street, holding a sign that read, "Will Design for Food."
But the fun was over. His father, William "Butch" McCarroll, a concrete contractor for the state, died, and the designer was tired of struggling to afford publicists and studios. "I wanted a more manageable life like my father had," McCarroll said. "I wanted to be happy like he was where I could be around my friends and my resources."
McCarroll moved to South Philly in 2008, found a manufacturer in North Philadelphia to produce his apparel and accessories, and started making gear that he could sell and market easily. The absence of New York City rent, and the fact that he isn't doing couture (although he hopes to again, one day) allows him to price everything between $20 and $75.
"People think it's less, but it's way more," he says. " Why aren't we celebrating the fact that I'm selling stuff that people can - and do - buy?"
As for his mall gig, McCarroll says he is proud to be associated with Hamilton. He calls malls and retailers like Macy's the nuts and bolts of the fashion industry.
"People give [Project winner] Christian Siriano grief for his deal with Payless, but he's making money," McCarroll said. "[Project judge] Michael Kors? His designs only see so much action on Fifth Avenue, but I bet he sells tons more at T.J. Maxx or Marshall's. I would love to have my work in Sears or Target. That's where my customers are." Read Full Story at

So.... I had the pleasure of attending:

Battle of the Runways
August 15, 2013: 5 - 9 PM
Don't Miss the Fashion Event of the Year! 
Hosted by Season 1 Project Runway Winner Jay McCarroll

Three FREE runway fashion shows featuring the hottest looks for fall from Aeropostale, Buckle, Charlotte Russe, Delia's, G by GUESS, Gymboree, JCP and JCPenney Salon, Littman Jewelers, Macy's, Nail Pro, Never Too Spoiled, New York & Company, Vera Bradley Accessories from Norman's Hallmark, PacSun, Shoe Sense, Sears and Lands' End at Sears, Tilly's, and Wet Seal. 

Here was the schedule of events:

5:00pm-5:45pm: Red Carpet Club Registration/Jay McCarroll Meet & Greet
5:45pm-6:45pm: Battle of the Runways Fashion Show #1 (Center Court Stage)
5:45pm-7:45pm: Free Face Painting by Facetival (Customer Service Stage)
7:00pm-7:30pm: SoJO 104.9 Design Contest (Center Court Stage)
7:45pm-8:30pm: Battle of the Runways Fashion Show #2 (JCP Stage)
8:30pm-9:00pm: Second Jay McCarroll Meet & Greet (JCP Stage)

Here's the line for the first meet and greet with Jay. Sadly, I did not make it up to see him this time, due to time constraints. 

So, off to the show. 







These are photos of the Jay McCarroll Collection, which is being sold at Never Too Spoiled's location at the Hamilton Mall


Last last part of the fashion show was SoJo1049's Battle of the Runways Fashion Challenge

Here's their write-up of their challenge:

We’re throwing down an unconventional fashion challenge!  Hamilton Mall‘s ‘Battle of the Runways’ style event is coming up August 15th hosted by Project Runway season 1 winner and newly named Hamilton Mall fashion ambassador Jay McCarroll!

So we want you to create a garment crafted solely of clothing retailer shopping bags and SoJO plastic banners! It can be a dress, it can be separates, just MAKE IT WORK!

How to enter to win:  Sketch your design and upload it below before August 4th.  Our 10 favorite ideas will earn you the right to have your design walk during ‘Battle of the Runways’ at Hamilton Mall in Mays Landing!

The winning designer will win the Grand Prize–a $200 gift card to shop Hamilton Mall, plus you’ll be Jay McCarroll’s special guest and sit with him front row at the Philadelphia Incubator Fashion Show this September!

Think back to Project Runway‘s Dylan’s Candy Bar challenge when the designers were asked to create a garment using candy and candy wrappers…that is your inspiration for our fashion challenge!  But YOUR unconventional materials will be shopping bags!  The more Hamilton Mall store logos you incorporate into your design, the better your chance of winning!

All designs must include Hamilton Mall store logos, for a list of stores CLICK HERE, and the SoJO 104.9 logo.

**Muslin, cheese cloth, or pattern-making material may be used as a foundation for creating your design, but fabric will not be permitted.

It’s your chance to show off your talents to a Project Runway champion and to all of South Jersey!  Deadline is August 4th!

**SoJO plastic banners are available for pick up Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. at 950 Tilton Road in Nortfield, NJ 08225.

I took photos: 






After the runway show was over, I went back to the meet and greet area, so I could be first in line for the second meet and greet session. I was NOT going to miss out on meeting Jay.

I asked him to sign my Project Runway book: 

The cast photo:

We spoke for about 15 minutes about how much I enjoyed his season, and how much I am impressed with his current work. He signed the promotional photo they had:

We also spoke about what I like to do: upcycling, and also about a possible product line I can do, using his fabric scraps. I have ideas!!!! 

Thank you, Jay McCarroll and the Hamilton Mall, you made my day, and my year!


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