In the electrifying realm of fashion where creativity intertwines with fabric to craft stories, ‘Project Runway’ season 1 burst onto the scene in December 2004, originally a Bravo TV show, now available on Amazon Prime. The runway became a battleground for designers armed with needles, dreams, and an insatiable hunger for success. Guided by the no-nonsense critique, Heidi Klum, this inaugural season unfolded like a tapestry of high-stakes drama and sartorial brilliance.
After the finale in February 2005, the designers embarked on journeys that would shape their careers in unpredictable ways. Some soared to new heights, becoming household names and industry trailblazers. Where are these architects of style who once vied for supremacy in the world of haute couture? The threads of their stories continue to weave through the fabric of fashion, leaving an indelible mark on an industry that thrives on reinvention and the relentless pursuit of the next sartorial masterpiece. So, let us uncover the post-show tales of these unforgettable designers.
Jay McCarroll has Found Love and Solace in his Life
Since claiming victory in ‘Project Runway’ season 1, Jay McCarroll has seamlessly continued his career as a designer. In 2010, McCarroll made headlines for a different kind of triumph as he secured the top spot on VH1’s ‘Celebrity Fit Club.’ Transitioning into the costume department, he served as a set costumer for the TV series ‘Orange Is the New Black’ in 2019. His stylistic expertise extended to short films, including ‘Fleur’ in 2017 and ‘Red Skies at Night: The Story of Flower.’
Notably, he took the spotlight in the documentary short ‘Eleven Minutes,’ providing an intimate look at the creation of his New York Fashion Week collection. Beyond the realm of fashion, McCarroll participated in various TV series, including ‘American Style’ in 2019, ‘Contemporary Color’ in 2016, and ‘Fashion News Live’ from 2008 to 2014. The diverse range of his appearances also includes ‘The Bonnie Hunt Show.’
In a triumphant return to Fashion Week on September 15, 2006, McCarroll unveiled his new collection, Transport. While McCarroll has meticulously crafted his post-Project Runway journey, it’s worth noting that he has found companionship in a relationship with hairstylist Matt Mellott. Despite maintaining a low profile on social media and choosing not to share details about his personal life, this tidbit adds a touch of warmth to the narrative of McCarroll’s life after his triumph in the world of fashion.
Kara Saun is Now the Fashion Fairy Godmother
Kara Saun, the CEO of Kara Saun LLC, commands the realms of fashion and costume design from her base in Los Angeles. Notably dubbed ‘The Fashion Fairygodmother,’ she extends her creative prowess beyond runways and screens, showcasing a unique blend of talent and philanthropy. One of Kara Saun’s notable initiatives is ‘Kingdoms and Capes,’ a Halloween event designed to bring joy to the homeless.
Kara has also taken on the role of producer in the short film ‘Trying at Love,’ where she serves as both a creative and executive producer. In the realm of costume design, Kara Saun’s imprint is evident in a myriad of productions. From the TV series ‘Comedy Central Roasts’ to the Disney movie ‘Descendants,’ her distinctive touch shapes the visual narrative of these diverse projects. Additionally, she has lent her costume design expertise to TV specials such as ‘The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration’ and ‘Disney Parks Magical Christmas Celebration.’
Kara’s involvement expands further into shorts and TV series, including ‘Trapped Within’ and ‘Splash,’ where she takes on the role of costume designer. In the costume department, she serves as a wardrobe contributor for ‘The 3rd Annual CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute’ and as a costume coordinator for ‘The Angel of St. Catherine’s Academy.’ As ‘The Fashion Fairygodmother,’ Kara Saun continues to weave magic through her designs while leaving an indelible mark on the worlds of fashion and entertainment.
Wendy Pepper has Sadly Left us for a Heavenly Abode
Wendy Pepper, a memorable contestant from Project Runway, has left us, succumbing to cancer in 2017. Her spirited presence and unique design perspective became indelible parts of the show’s early seasons. In a poignant turn, Wendy returned to the runway for the second season of ‘Project Runway All Stars’ in 2012, showcasing her enduring passion for fashion. While her physical presence may be absent, Wendy Pepper’s impact on the world of design and her resilience in the face of adversity continue to be remembered by those touched by her talent and spirit.
Austin Scarlett has Ventured into Bridal Couture
Austin Scarlett, a standout from Project Runway, has evolved into a mentor and entrepreneur, now overseeing his own studio where he imparts his knowledge through classes. Recently, he ventured into the world of bridal couture, showcasing his creative flair in this specialized niche. Austin’s designs have gained widespread recognition, earning him features on episodes of TLC’s ‘Say Yes to the Dress.’ Notably, he made a return to the runway for ‘Project Runway: All-Stars,’ securing the runner-up position. Alongside his flourishing career, Austin enjoys the support of his husband, Smith Freeman. Through his diverse pursuits, Austin Scarlett continues to weave his artistic vision into the fabric of the fashion world.
Robert Plotkin is Now a Retailer
After his stint on the show, Robert Plotkin persisted in fashion designing for several years before pivoting to the retail business. Presently, he finds joy and fulfillment in his role as a husband and father, happily married with two children. A glimpse into his life through Instagram reveals a dedicated family man, frequently seen relishing moments with his boys. It appears that Robert has redirected his focus from the runway to the family circle, embracing a new chapter where his creative energy is channeled into the joys of fatherhood and domestic bliss.
Kevin Johnn is a Brand Name Today
Kevin Johnn, fueled by an enduring passion for fashion, has seamlessly transitioned from a contestant on the show to a successful clothing brand owner. Beyond his eponymous fashion label, he has also ventured into sportswear with the establishment of Zeronine. Kevin’s journey post-show reflects not just a continued commitment to the world of style but an expansion into the realms of entrepreneurship, making a mark in both the fashion and sportswear sectors.
Alexandra Vidal has her Own Clothing Line Now
Alexandra Vidal has seamlessly transitioned into the role of creative director and designer for Alexandra Vidal Haute Couture. Beyond her creative endeavors, she is married to Brian Worthington, a celebrated New York-based interior designer. Alexandra’s designs have gained significant recognition, adorning celebrities at prominent events within the industry since the show.
Nora Caliguri is Currently Running her Private Fashion Designer Shop
Nora Caliguri Pagel has carved her path in the fashion industry and is currently running her private fashion designer shop. She is happily married to Todd Pagel, and together they navigate both personal and professional pursuits. Nora’s journey extended to the spotlight once again when she appeared in ‘Project Runway All Stars,’ showcasing her continued presence and influence in the world of design.
Vanessa Riley Now Owns a Company that Organizes Cruelty-free Pony Parties
Vanessa Riley, a multifaceted professional in the fashion industry, served as a fashion designer for quite some time after the show. Eventually, she changed her career pursuits and is the owner of Peace Love & Ponies, where she organizes pony parties catering to all age groups. However, her personal life seems to be undergoing challenges, as she openly discusses her separation from her husband on social media, seeking justice and sharing the difficulties she faces. Despite the hurdles, Vanessa continues to navigate both her professional and personal spheres with the love and support her son gives her.
Starr Ilzhoefer’s Life Took an Unexpected Turn
Starr Ilzhoefer, post her time on the show, ventured into diverse professional domains, initially exploring a career in law and subsequently transitioning into real estate. However, her journey took an unexpected turn when she made headlines for facing federal charges of fraud. This legal entanglement brought a significant shift in her narrative, marking a departure from her initial pursuits after the show.
Mario Cadenas’ Instagram is Filled with his Designs
Mario Cadenas wears the hat of a designer as they opened a unisex brand Han. They showcase their artistic side through captivating fashion illustrations on their Instagram handle and have also become a renowned model for their own brand. Mario extends his creative reach into the realm of fashion film, with their work accessible on Vimeo. While they openly share glimpses of their professional endeavors on social media, Mario keeps a tight lid on details about their personal life, maintaining a discreet boundary between their public and private spheres.
Daniel Franco is Now the Proud Owner of Albertson Chapel
Daniel Franco Barreto, the owner of Albertson Chapel, wears multiple hats as a creative force. Apart from his role at Albertson Chapel, he showcases his skills as a filmmaker, having shot, directed, and edited a short film for Zaid Affas. Franco also auditioned for American Idol in season 9. He seized another opportunity on Project Runway for its season 2, demonstrating a continued passion for design and a willingness to engage with the competitive realm of fashion. Despite his professional accomplishments, Daniel maintains a private stance on his personal life.
Read More: Project Runway Season 3: Where Are They Now?