'Project Runway' reunion party: Checking in with some of the show's most unforgettable designers

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"Project Runway" -- Michael Costello, Kara Janx, Mondo, Elisa Jimenez & Jay McCarroll

Michael Costello, Kara Janx, Mondo, Elisa Jimenez, and Jay McCarroll

It's hard to believe "Project Runway" is already knee-deep into its 11th season. When we think back to some of the show's most unforgettable characters, it seems crazy to us that they graced the catwalk in our living rooms so long ago.

But, alas, time stands still for no one, not even couturiers.

Thankfully, this New York Fashion Week afforded us the opportunity to attend a "Project Runway" reunion party and catch up with some of our favorite designers.


Mondo Guerra

Season: 8 (runner-up) and All-Stars Season 1 (winner)

Why you remember him: He announced he was HIV positive during his regular season and was embroiled in a major bromance with Michael Costello and a major beef with Austin Scarlet during All-Stars.

Favorite season (other than his own): "I loved Christian Siriano's season because, when I saw that season and I saw Christian win, I looked at the television and I thought, 'You know what? I can do that, too.' And that's something that really inspired me to go out and achieve my goals."

Designer who was eliminated too soon: "Kit! Kit Scarbo [better known as Kit Pistol]. She's really supertalented. It was a s--tty night. I was so upset, because you know when you watch a competition reality show like this and somebody gets kicked off for the wrong reasons. I won't forget that for the rest of my life."

Current career status: "My collection is coming out at Neiman Marcus this spring, and my SEE eyewear collection is coming out summer 2013. I am also working on my own branding, and I also have this HIV education campaign, which is really wonderful, because in Season 8 I came out as HIV positive and that has really changed my life. It sounds cliché, but 'Project Runway' really gave me my life back in so many ways. … It really made me be proactive in my own healthy life again."

On that bromance: "Oh my god! Michael is practically my lover; we just don't sleep with each other."
On that beef: "It is what it is. … When you're put in a room with 15 other people who are larger than life -- or at least think they are -- it's hard. We all have egos. Especially on All-Stars. It's like we came back and people knew who we were, so we have this attitude or whatever. It was a real competition the second time around. It felt like a competition. The first time, I was like, 'Whatever, let's just have fun.' The second time, I was like, 'Game on.' The beefs? I'll take 'em rare. I'll take 'em real rare."

[Related: Christian Siriano talks spring trends and style crushes]


Jay McCarroll

Season: 1 (winner)

Why you remember him: He's loud, outspoken, and won the first season.

Favorite season: "I think 2, because it had that same kind of energy [as the first]. It wasn't so much about the characters; it was about the work. The first season was really about the work and how interesting it was to watch the process of clothes being designed. By now, the formula's tired. You know what's coming really. I wish they showed more of the clothes."

Designer eliminated too soon: "Ben Chmura [from Season 7]. His work was so good. Kara Janx, I think, also deserved to be in the final three on her season [which was Season 2 and she finished fourth]. Those are the two that come to mind."

Current career status: "I teach college for fashion at Philadelphia University. I'm still designing clothing and accessories. I've been trudging along. It's a hard business. It takes a lot of time. If it was easy, the 700 designers that 'Project Runway' has already produced would all be Karl Lagerfeld, but it's hard."


Michael Costello

Season: 8 (fourth place) and All-Stars Season 1 (third place)

Why you remember him: Rarely do the other designers like his personality, and most love to talk about how they don't think he's very talented. But then he wins challenges.

Favorite season: "Season 9. I'm really close with all the boys on Season 9. … I feel like I was on Season 9 and not Season 8. I don't know how it happened, but I am really in love with the boys. We're really, really close."

Designer eliminated too soon: "On All-Stars, I think Joshua McKinley was eliminated too soon. I would've loved to have seen what he brought to the finale. On Season 10 of 'Project Runway,' I was really interested in seeing what Raoul Ortiz could've done."

Current career status: "I just opened a new showroom in downtown Los Angeles. Been working on the brand. I'm one of the 'Project Runway' designers who is very focused on work, work, work. It's killing me right now to be away from my work. … I'm one of the most sought-after designers when it comes to the 'Project Runway' alum. The Los Angeles Times gave me that title, which is really cool. And I dressed 17 people -- including four nominees -- for the Grammys."

[Related: Celebs at New York Fashion Week Fall 2013]


Elisa Jimenez

Season: 4 (eliminated in week 6) and All-Stars Season 1 (eliminated first)

Why you remember her: She was incredibly unique, from her personality to her artistic process, which just happened to include the infamous "spit marks."

Favorite season: "I don't know if you know this about me, but I've actually never seen 'Project Runway.' Never seen my episodes, never watched the show before, never watched the show after. … I've always been fascinated with it in an Andy Warhol-ian way. It's basically like a 15 minutes but, more importantly, it brings people who never get recognized into the mainstream and therefore bypassing some of the hoops you have to go through to get your work seen as a fashion designer."

Designer eliminated too soon: "You know what's funny about the process? It's that from the very beginning I was very aware that we were all really talented. It wasn't really who was the best one because fashion is fickle."

Current career status: "I still do all my clothes. I still work with private buyers. I do other private art projects -- a lot of drawing, a lot of photography. I've also been doing more healing work, so I've been doing massage. And I'm still doing my sculpture. Basically, I'm still doing what I've always done. I've been really blessed. I do many different things. … I feel like if you know what's most important to you, you can really live a very good daily life."


Chris March

Season: 4 (fourth place)

Why you remember him: He was a pleasure in the workroom and known for making hugely theatrical, drag-queen-like pieces.

Favorite season: "I guess I always kind of liked Season 3 a lot. I was on Season 5, too, for one episode, so I kind of like that one. There are a lot of great parts of every season, but my favorite altogether besides mine would probably be Season 3."

Designer eliminated too soon: "I always thought that, on my season, Kit Pistol, the blond girl, should never have been eliminated. I thought she was phenomenal. She just got really tired -- it happens."

Current career status: "I have a lot of big projects coming up this year, but, unfortunately, I really can't talk about any of 'em. I guess I could say that one of them is a Broadway thing and one of them is for Halloween. So, by maybe May, you'll know."


Kara Janx

Season: 2 (fourth place) and All-Stars Season 1 (seventh place)

Why you remember her: She's South African! She has an accent to go with her attitude! And then there was that failed makeover challenge.

Favorite season: "Sorry, it's Season 2 all the way!"

Designer eliminated too soon: "My memory is punch. I don't know. I'm sorry, I've got pregnancy brain. I can't remember, but I'm sure there was."

Current career status: "I left my business, but I work with Elie Tahari and I'm good."


Emilio Sosa

Season: 7 (runner-up) and All-Stars Season 2 (runner-up)

Why you remember him: He's always a bridesmaid, having placed second twice. He also broke records for consecutively winning challenges.

Favorite season: "I'm partial to my season of All-Stars. Not just because I was on it, but because it was really good. The people were good, the drama was real -- it wasn't manufactured."

Designer eliminated too soon: "I'll always have a soft spot for Althea [Harper from Season 6]. She made it to the finals, but I've always had a soft spot for her. I think she should've won her season."

Current career status: "I'm currently designing the costumes for 'Motown: The Musical.' It's so many costumes -- it's over 200 costumes, 100 wigs, 35 performers -- but it's a designer's heaven. There's so much beautiful history. I was able to go through the archives and pull pieces, and it's really been amazing."


Jack Mackenroth

Season: 4

Why you remember him: He left his season during episode 5 when he developed a serious staph infection.

Favorite season: "I'm old school, and one of my favorites of all time is Uli. I love Uli and her season. Season 2 and 3 are my seasons."

Designer eliminated too soon: "Anthony Ryan Auld, who ended up winning All-Stars. I remember because I saw the decoy collections and his was ah-mazing, so when he won All-Stars, I was really not surprised."

Current career status: Designing a line of dress shirts and dress pants and writing a memoir.