'Project Runway' to Project Real Life

Posted: March 06, 2009

Pay attention to the man behind the curtain.

For anyone who can't get enough of Project Runway - or who just finds the whole weird world of fashion fascinating - Eleven Minutes offers a glimpse into the low moments and high anxieties of a young, struggling designer, debuting his inaugural line at New York Fashion Week.

Jay McCarroll, winner of the first season of Project Runway, is the subject of Michael Selditch and Rob Tate's illuminating doc, which premiered here last spring at the Philadelphia Film Festival. At once confident and self-questioning, gentle but acerbic, McCarroll - from Luzerne County, Pa., and now living in Philly - runs the gauntlet of publicists, marketeers, producers, wigmakers, jewelry designers, and runway models on his way to those 11 minutes of glory (or humiliation) in front of B-list celebs and the fashion elite.

Like a low-rent Unzipped, the verite Isaac Mizrahi movie, Eleven Minutes tracks its star all over, as he quips, whines, and wonders how he got into this mess. Things get ugly when McCarroll skirmishes with his flack (PR maven Kelly Cutrone, now scaring mere mortals on MTV's The City). And things get serious when he talks about his clothes: a fun line of shirts and skirts, frocks and whatnots inspired, in part, by an offbeat 1960s U.K. architecture firm.

Trying to figure out how to both exploit and cast off his Project Runway fame, McCarroll comes off as a likable and talented guy, amazingly calm as the Big Moment arrives and the guy making his models' shoes is nowhere to be found.

Drama. Lots of it.


Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or srea@phillynews.com. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at http://go.philly.com/onmovies.

Jay McCarroll will host a Q&A following the 7:25 screening tonight at the Ritz at the Bourse. And filmmakers Michael Selditch and Rob Tate host a Q&A following the 7:25 screening tomorrow night.

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