By now you've probably heard about the collections put together by Project Runway's final four: Michael's misguided ''street safari'' style, Uli's alluring Miami-metallic looks, Laura's baubled, bangled, and beaded cocktail collection, and Jeffrey's surprisingly chic Betsey Johnson-meets-Marc Jacobs-meets-Heatherette line. But we've hardly heard a peep from the show's first design star-to-be, the lovably high-strung Jay McCarroll. The season 1 winner had his first post-PR show during NYC Fashion Week...the very same day as the four season 3 finalists. How did Jay's Spring '07 collection look on the catwalk? We break it down.
THE LOOK Part aviator, part Brady Bunch, part Jetsons, part Chiquita: We saw goggles and protective headgear, '70s silhouettes, futuristic metallics, and lots of yellow. Head-to-toe yellow.
WHAT TOTALLY WORKED Stripes are notoriously tricky, but McCarroll used them sparingly and smartly: In varying widths and colors, horizontal stripes livened up a staid sweater vest; in thin, uniform grey-on-grey, they were subtle but striking. And then there was his brilliant empire-waisted, voluminous mini cocktail confection—which took last season's bubble-skirt trend one flattering step further. A BCBG knockoff is probably imminent. (Minus the freaky hooded shrug. Good for bad hair days, but completely inappropriate for, say, a night at the opera.)
WHAT KINDA WORKED Ah, patchwork. We saw more during Fashion Week than at a quilting bee. (Are designers just clearing out their extra-fabric scrap heap or what?) McCarroll's impeccably tailored white trench with a patchwork front panel was just odd enough to win our approval. But the mod mini with blue, brown, and orange squares? I think I saw a Coach handbag just like it...three seasons ago.
WHAT DIDN'T WORK Sadly, the yellow. No one wants to look like a banana or, in the case of one puffy-sleeved, big-bowed mess of a dress, a banana-colored bridesmaid.
THE VERDICT Disappointing. He gets points for accessories like side-slung messenger bags and spiky modern jewelry (very Thomas Mann!), but between the hoods, the oversize eyewear, and the headgear, we didn't know whether we were in a fashion tent or a virtual-reality machine. His menswear was surprisingly good considering PR promotes women's wear pretty much exclusively but the skinny-pants-and-sweater-vest combo has been done before, and better. (See John Varvatos.) He claims to have a ''very accessible'' line ready for stores. Hopefully that will be more wearable. Melissa Rose Bernardo
Next: Shanelle Rein-Olowokere rates recent work by past contestants...