Project Runway Winners — Where Are They Now?
by Kelly Keenan | University of Notre Dame
Since 2004, the aspiring designers of Project Runway have been winning the hearts of fans with their inspired, creative designs. For the past nine seasons, the most innovative designers have show collections at New York Fashion Week and one lucky contestant is crowned the winner. But what happens after that fateful day in the stylish NYC tents? So before season 10 gets underway tonight, we decided to take a look at what your favorite PR winners are doing today.
Season 1’s Jay McCarroll won the judges over with his bright, inventive designs and quirky personal style. Since becoming a Project Runway alumnus, McCarroll has advanced his fashion career, designing clothing lines for both men and women as well as a line of fabric. In 2009, McCarroll also made a documentary, called 11 Minutes, in which he chronicled a bit of his life after Project Runway.
In the second season, Chloe Dao, a designer with a slightly more classic, conventional flair earned the title of Project Runway’s top designer. Before heading to New York to try out for the show, Dao already owned her own boutique in her hometown of Houston. Today, Dao’s boutique has expanded thanks in part to the show. In addition to the designs she sells in her stores, Dao designs custom bridal gowns, created a collection for QVC and started a line of laptop cases for Staples.
Jeffrey Sebelia was season 3’s grunge-chic bad boy. His edgy designs, often in black, usually styled with chains and zippers won over Heidi, Michael and Nina, as well as PR fans at home. The line he designed before the show, Cosa Nostra, continues today along with the line of children’s apparel he started in 2011. In 2009, Sebelia was named head designer of the L.A. based brand, Fluxus, a company that sells its apparel in fine retailers including Saks Fifth Avenue.
Possibly the show’s most beloved winner, the fabulous Christian Siriano continuously created show stopping dresses and gowns during season 4. Today, Siriano designs those new same flamboyant looks only they are now seen on musicians, actresses and even supermodels. His website features celebrities such as Christina Ricci, Nicky Minaj, and Heidi Klum wearing his dresses at star-studded events. Since winning Project Runway, Siriano has shown a collection each season at New York Fashion Week. His pieces can be purchased on his website as well as those of fine retailers, like Neiman Marcus.
Leanne Marshall stole the show in season 5, with her modern, ladylike designs. Today, her line consists mostly of short dresses with clean lines and beautiful colors. Like Dao, Marshall also designs bridal gowns and works on designs with private clients. Paula Abdul even sported some of Marshall’s designs on the X Factor.
After showing her Fall 2011 collection at NYC Fashion Week, season 6 winner Irina Shabayeva began work on her capsule collection for Macy’s INC brand. The designer’s pricy dresses can be purchased through her website.
Post PR, Seth Aaron Henderson took his designs in a slightly different direction. With green energy and becoming such a tremendous trend, in 2010, Henderson created and showed a line inspired by solar panels at Portland fashion week. This fall, Henderson will continue his eco-friendly theme with a collection of sustainable apparel made entirely from recycled materials.
Gretchen Jones caused a bit of a stir when she won season 8 of Project Runway. Despite disagreement among the judges, Jones walked away victorious. Today she creates a line of womens wear using natural materials and ethical business practices. She also launched a jewelry line through Piperlime which donates 100 percent of the proceeds to Aid to Artisans.
The designer who strutted into Parsons barely knowing how to sew proved to be quite the success story. Today, Anya Ayoung-Chee designs her womenswear line, PILAR, from her home in Trinidad and Tobago.Kelly Keenan is a junior at the University of Notre Dame, where she is studying Marketing and English.