One Day You Win, and the Next Day, You're Auf'd: Where Are Project Runway's Winners Now?

To most unknown and/or struggling designers trying to break into the industry, winning the grand prize on a season of Project Runway sounds like an absolute dream come true: $100,000, a major fashion mag editorial, an ultra-expensive technology suite, website partnerships, instant name recognition, and endless opportunities for publicity. But what happens when the cameras stop rolling? When Tim Gunn is no longer hovering over your shoulder in the workroom, telling you what 'worries' him? Or when, instead of competing against 15 designers in a challenge, you're competing with potentially hundreds of thousands of designers around the world? With Project Runway All Stars (finally!) premiering tonight, it got us wondering about all the seriously talented individuals to whom Heidi Klum never said "auf wiedersehen."
Avatar:
Nora Crotty
Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
83
To most unknown and/or struggling designers trying to break into the industry, winning the grand prize on a season of Project Runway sounds like an absolute dream come true: $100,000, a major fashion mag editorial, an ultra-expensive technology suite, website partnerships, instant name recognition, and endless opportunities for publicity. But what happens when the cameras stop rolling? When Tim Gunn is no longer hovering over your shoulder in the workroom, telling you what 'worries' him? Or when, instead of competing against 15 designers in a challenge, you're competing with potentially hundreds of thousands of designers around the world? With Project Runway All Stars (finally!) premiering tonight, it got us wondering about all the seriously talented individuals to whom Heidi Klum never said "auf wiedersehen."
Photo: Getty

Photo: Getty

To most unknown and/or struggling designers trying to break into the industry, winning the grand prize on a season of

Image Title2

Season 1: Jay McCarroll

Jay won the first-ever Project Runway with his kooky and colorful creations, and was also the first (and only) contestant to turn down the $100,000 prize due to an allegedly fishy contractual clause. Bravo gave him his own hour-long special in 2006 called Project Jay, then there was some confusion about him being possibly homeless (he wasn't!), then he won VH1's Celebrity Fit Club (and lost 40 lbs). Since then, he's returned to his home-(see...he has a home!) state of Pennsylvania, where he currently teaches at Philadelphia University and runs a blog with updates on

Image Title3

Season 2: Chloe Dao

Quiet Chloe had some tough competition to win Season 2, but managed to beat out both cutie pie Daniel V and zany Santino for the prize. She returned to Houston soon after the finale, where she owns and operates a boutique called Lot 8 and an

Image Title4

Season 3: Jeffrey Sebelia

Cocky, neck-tattooed Jeffrey, who really, really loved his son but was portrayed as the meany of Season 3, impressed us all with his punk aesthetic and zipper add-ons. Following his Season 3 win, the seemingly bummed-out designer admitted to New York Magazine that he was "totally broke" after paying off loans and had resorted to designing costumes for a [slutty dolls] Bratz movie. But we all know that after the rain, there comes a rainbow! More recently, Sebelia was named head designer of LA-based knitwear brand Fluxus, and last spring, he released an edgy, punk-inspired (what else?) childrenswear collection for the

Image Title5

Season 4: Christian Siriano

Image Title6

Season 5: Leanne Marshall

Following her win on Season 5, Ms. Marshall moved from Portland, Oregon to Brooklyn, where she currently has a design studio. She has sold her handcrafted ready-to-wear, accessories, and bridal gowns - including her collections' samples - through

Image Title7

Season 6: Irina Shabayeva

Irina practically glided through Season 6, never once landing in the bottom-three of a challenge. Since winning Project Runway, she has created capsule collections for Macy's INC International Concepts and

Image Title8

Season 7: Seth Aaron Henderson

So nice, they named him twice. Season 7 winner Seth Aaron, who lives in Vancouver with his wife and kids, has since shown collections in NYC, LA, and Portland, OR. In 2011, he collaborated with electronics accessories brand Maroo on a "high fashion"

Image Title9

Season 8: Gretchen Jones

Gretchen's Season 8 win was pretty controversial - because everyone and her mom (including mine) and Tim Gunn was rooting for

Image Title10

Season 9: Anya Ayoung-Chee

Anya is the most recent winner of the franchise, and an impressive one at that: She claims to have only learnt how to sew a few months before her stint on PR, and seemed to discover new fabric techniques as she went along - much to the dismay of many competitors. The former Miss Trinidad and Tobago (and obvious Heidi-fave) was voted 'fan favorite' for the entirety of Season 9 and won the judges over with her collection of easy, Caribbean-inspired dresses. She also starred in a pretttty steamy sex tape. Currently, the only thing available for purchase through her site is a pack of pins for $18 - but then, it has only been two months.