“Project Runway” Stars Share Fashion Insights and Advice with Students

“Project Runway” veterans Jay McCarroll and April Johnston shared tales from the fashion design reality show as well as advice for PhilaU fashion students during a wide-ranging talk Dec. 5 in the DEC Center Forum.

McCarroll, a PhilaU fashion design alum and current fashion faculty member, won the first season of the popular show in 2005. Both he and Johnston, who competed on season eight, had decidedly mixed feelings about their experiences on the show.

“I had a great experience, but it was very stressful,” said McCarroll, whose designs are available at jaymccarrollonline.com.

McCarroll and Johnston agreed that the best part about being on the show was the exposure it brought to their work.

“Alessandra Ambrosio wore one of my pieces on ‘America’s Next Top Model,’” Johnston noted.

“My advice is to put your best portfolio together,” Johnston said.

The designers encouraged students to share their digital portfolios on as many sites as they can. At PhilaU students have the opportunity to upload their work to Behance.com.

Sophomore fashion design student Maria D’Agostino asked if they would recommend studying business as a minor to complement her fashion degree, which both McCarroll and Johnston agreed is a good idea.

“If you have your own business, you have to be a designer, and you have to be an accountant,” McCarroll said. “It’s such a multi-faceted business.”

Though their personal styles are quite different—McCarroll is a fan of bright colors and fun prints while Johnston prefers monochromatic color schemes and an emphasis on black—the pair is considering future collaboration.

“We’re actually talking about doing trade shows together,” McCarroll said, noting that the designers’ different aesthetics could attract a wider audience for their products.

Both designers are currently based in the Philadelphia area. Johnston designs her own line called Mangled Courtesan.

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