Project Runway Winners: Where Are They Now?

[Editor’s note: For the next two Fridays, Flavorwire will be counting down our 20 most popular features of 2010. This post, which originally ran on October 29, 2010, comes in at position number 14.] Last night, we cut the Project Runway cord. As faithful fans since Season 1, who followed the series from the wonderful Bravo to the not-wonderful Lifetime, it was no small decision. But, while we won’t spoil the ending for you if you haven’t seen it yet, suffice to say we’ve lost all faith in the judges’ ability to pick a winner, even when it’s freaking obvious who the best designer is.

Before we say goodbye for good, though, we want to check in on the winners from the first seven seasons of the show — the ones we loved and the ones we hated. Read all about what they’ve done since Project Runway after the jump.

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Season 1 (2004-05): Jay McCarroll

Still our favorite Project Runway contestant of all time, Jay McCarroll is also famously, stubbornly independent. He refused the series’s $100,000 award and Banana Republic mentorship (like they’d have anything to teach him!) because accepting them would have forced him to tithe his earnings to the show’s production company. Still, he was able to get on his feet without the startup capital, despite some tough times and a whole lot of New York couch surfing. A short documentary, “Eleven Minutes,” chronicles his path to his first post-Runway New York Fashion Week show.

These days, McCarroll  lives in Philadelphia and teaches classes at a local shop called Spool Sewing. The designer has also created a covet-worthy line of fabrics called Habitat, the latest in a series of textile collections McCarroll has done for FreeSpiritFabrics. In 2008, he launched a line for QVC (although his clothing doesn’t seem to be for sale there now). He now presides over The Colony, an online boutique that sells McCarroll’s and other designers’ clothing, accessories, and fabrics at surprisingly reasonable prices. Just as they were on Runway, the colors are bright and the prints fun. McCarroll also has a blog, where he seems to pop in from time to time, although most posts appear to be purely promotional. Next month, he’ll show his Spring/Summer 2011 collection at Islands of the World Fashion Week. Oh, and in case you haven’t been watching VH1, you may be interested to know that McCarroll won Celebrity Fit Club back in April and is skinny now.