Interview with Project Runway season 7 designer Jay Nicolas Sario
April 19, 11:47 AMBaltimore Sewing ExaminerWendy Kaufman
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Jay Nicolas Sario works on his design on an episode of Project
Jay Nicolas Sario works on his design on an episode of Project Runway.
Photo Credit: Barbara Nitke/Lifetime Television
My interview with Project Runway's Jay Nicolas Sario was like a roller coaster ride. I simply could not fathom the man. Only part of that lack of understanding came from the fact that much of the time the conversation went was as if we were communicating through some sort of wind storm that I could not hear. Jay kept answering questions—but not the ones I had asked. Then there was one other little issue. It's indisputable that the man's got tons of talent, but he lacks quality control on what comes out of his mouth. It's absolutely not becoming on him.
The interview started off well. I was eager to hear what Jay had to say. I had read that he had not sewed until he auditioned for season 6. I wanted to know if that was correct, so I asked him about it. "I have worked for the Gap for the past 10 years, so you know—my life. And I am still working for them, and you know, growing up I knew this is what I wanted to do. I never really followed my dreams. I followed it in a small way, but I never really like, went after it and pursued it. I've always said to myself 'time will tell.' I know that I am not giving up on my dreams. I know time will tell. Time will eventually come. Project Runway is a way to get back into this passion of mine. I'm excited. I am working on my spring collection now, and it's for 2011, and it's going to be sold in a lot of stores here in San Francisco." Close. but not what I asked. Still, this was informative stuff, so I didn't press my original question.
I followed his lead and we talked about his new line. He says he's stuck on his spring collection and finds himself repeating his fall collection."I've been sketching a lot. It will get there. I'm not nervous. And I'm not gonna be without an amazing spring collection. I just have to keep sketching. I have an inspiration, I have a color pallette. I just need to keep sketching. Because that's what I did for my fall collection. A lot of the things that I sketched on day one, I executed them but they did not make it to the ten looks. They just kinda, you know, got thrown in the rubbish." I wish we had been able to see them. What did he edit, and what was his criteria?
I was also curious about the tears we saw in the last episode over the possibility of not showing at Bryant Park if Mila took the slot. We all know he did show—and to rave reviews. I wanted to know when the decoy designers knew that they would be showing along with the top three and so find out what the fuss was about. Wasn't showing at Bryant Park a pretty big deal in and of itself? I'm not sure if his reply was deliberately cryptic or just heard through that wind storm. "Oh! It all happened on the same day. All 10 designers showed at fashion week. We started at like 7am until noon I think or 10:00. I showed first. I was the first to go out of the tent. They basically hashed the top three in between. That way the crowd would not know who the top three are, or top four. It was exciting to be me as the front runner, not knowing, well, I already knew I was booted off, so..." When pressed further, he said that he knew as soon that as he was told that he'd be competing against Mila for the third slot that he'd be showing, no matter what. I am confused. He got the prize: Showing at Bryant Park, but he's worried about being in the top three, who also show at Bryant Park. Same prize for all but one, no? I sat back a bit to hear what the others had to ask. Maybe things would become clearer to me.
So, interviewers were asking questions, with many getting windstorm answers—informative, but not actual answers to the questions they asked. Then the conversation inevitably found its way to his relationship with Mila. "I really thought I was going to beat her, and make it to the top three, and beat Seth Arron and Emilio. Because, you know, I thought I was going up against Seth. He has a strong point of view and he can sew and make amazing clothes. I probably could have beat those two guys." He went on to elaborate on how he felt after his elimination "I felt like I had the worst kind of situation of all the people that had already been eliminated, because I'm so close to fashion week. They got eliminated during the summertime, and they had 4 months to get over it." and "I felt robbed. Robbed and shocked over the judge's decision."
Then I had to look under the desk for my jaw, because it fell off and rolled away when I heard the next words out of Jay's mouth. "I loved my collection. The only thing I wish at this point is that I wish I had a vagina to be honest with you, because it's the only reason why Mila made it to the top three—is that I have a penis and she has a vagina, and they needed a vagina in the top three." Now, I know that there were some issues with Mila, Jay and Emilio that ended up mostly in the cutting room floor, but this smacks of bald-faced misogyny. I really hate running into misogyny. A lot. And this, after they made up?
The fact remains that to say that a woman that has been busily employed for the last 14 years costuming in major motion pictures (with not an insignificant number of designer credits), and also has 5 more years to her name before that as a fashion designer, only won because she had a vagina is delusional. There is so much talent out there that NO ONE needs to employ the talentless at any level. And this coming from a man whose resume is filled with a nice long stint as a visual merchandiser and lead stylist for Gap Kids. I remember the merchandising majors back in my college days. All can say is: Oy! Jay! You have so much talent, why degrade yourself by such outrageous bad-mouthing? It's the same judges out there at Byrant Park, plus one. Do you think that the decision would have been any different then? If that's so, then Jay, you chose the wrong looks from your collection to show, and that's not vagina or penis dependent.
How can a designer who is experiencing such success with the Project Runway publicity, have time for such bitterness and misogyny. Did Mila win? Mother's instinct paired with how this interview went, says no. Jay was too wrapped up in how he could have beat Seth had he been in the running, therefore, Seth's the winner. I asked him about his issues with not being in the top three—omitting the part about the bitterness and misogyny. I asked, "Does it really matter, in the long run, if you were in the top three, as long as you were showing at Bryant Park?" His reply was as expected. "It doesn't matter. I mean the exposure definitely helps. It doesn't matter at this point. Like Anthony says, 'you don't have to have the crown to be the queen.' That's, you know, what I need to do. I need to just keep going, keep the momentum going. It doesn't matter. At the end of the day...Like as soon as Bryant Park as over, I was featured in the Wall Street Journal and New York Post, and I was featured in Women's Wear Daily. I mean who does that?"
Exactly my point. The man did indeed receive rave reviews over his line. The Wall Street Journal said "Consensus seemed to settle on Jay Nicolas Sario as the best of the morning. He played with knits and big shoulders, adding a structural type of draping to his purple, red and gray ensembles." So, the man has talent. He now has a publicity springboard. He does not seem to be afraid of hardship and hard work. He's done it before in college, when he had to pick art supplies out of the classroom trash, while still producing great stuff. He finally was no longer able to manage the cost of living, and had to give up his scholarship to Otis College of Art & Design in Los Angeles. Hard work and unexpected turns of events are things he's familiar with.
In short, I'm not sure what Jay is whining about. He's got the trifecta: Talent, publicity, and rave reviews. If you look at previous seasons of Project Runway, you see that it's not uncommon for designers that did not win to do very well for themselves. I don't also get his point of view on the other collections and the range of talent present there. "I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I worked on my collection knowing that I have a chance to show at fashion week, vs., If I was a decoy. If I was, let's say for instance, Amy, I am not so sure that I would have put the same passion. Definitely, I worked on my collection knowing I was still in the competition, vs. I'm working on my collection because I was working on a collection as a decoy."
Proof that he just does not get it. I can't imagine anyone throwing away a chance at Bryant Park publicity on a collection that was less than their best, simply because (s)he had no chance for the Lifetime Television portion of the award. With 10 designers, there is going to be a range of talent represented. Simple as that.
Maybe he simply has not yet begun to master the nuances of social interactions. Maybe this is why I thought he was only in his twenties. He behaves that way (and the references I found of him having favorite places to get drunk didn't help either). I am not the only one that had his age wrong. Two of us at the phone interview had to inform another interviewer that Jay was indeed, not a kid. It all leads to the question: What did Mila get that Jay didn't? Why not be angry at Emilio for taking a slot he could have had? Why is Mila so fascinating to him to warrant to so much of his energy? People of no merit, should merit none of one's psychological energy. Therefore, he's well aware of her talent. Oh Boyet, c'mon. Time to Man-et. If you feed that bitterness, it will only consume you. Take that talent, move ahead, and show us what you got. You know we all really want to see it—and buy it.