Project Runway Season 1 Cast Where Are They Now?

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Project Runway, the reality competition show that first aired in 2004, has become a cultural touchstone for fashion enthusiasts and aspiring designers alike. The inaugural season introduced viewers to a group of talented designers, each competing for the chance to showcase their work at New York Fashion Week and to win a mentorship with a renowned fashion designer. Over a decade later, fans of the show often wonder what became of the contestants from Season 1. In this article, we’ll take a look at where the Project Runway Season 1 cast is now, exploring their careers and achievements since appearing on the show.

Introduction to Project Runway Season 1

Project Runway Season 1 premiered in December 2004, setting the stage for what would become a long-running and influential series in the world of fashion design. Hosted by supermodel Heidi Klum, with fashion designer Michael Kors and Elle magazine fashion director Nina Garcia as judges, the show featured 12 designers competing in various challenges to create the best clothes, judged by a panel that included industry professionals.

Where Are They Now: The Cast of Project Runway Season 1

Since the show’s conclusion, the designers have taken diverse paths in the fashion industry. Some have launched their own labels, others have stepped away from fashion design, and a few have even become television personalities themselves. Let’s delve into the individual journeys of the Season 1 cast.

Jay McCarroll – The Winner

Jay McCarroll, the winner of the first season, received much attention for his victory. He was known for his quirky personality and unique design aesthetic. After the show, McCarroll launched his own fashion line and has been involved in various fashion and media projects, including a documentary about his life post-Project Runway titled “Eleven Minutes.” He has also taught fashion and design at Philadelphia University.

Kara Saun – Runner-Up

Kara Saun was the runner-up of Season 1 and was praised for her professionalism and polished designs. Post-show, she has found success as a costume designer for television and film, working on productions such as “Descendants” and “America’s Best Dance Crew.” Kara Saun has also continued to work on her own fashion line.

Wendy Pepper – Third Place

Wendy Pepper, known for her competitive spirit on the show, finished in third place. She continued to design under her own label and appeared on the second season of Project Runway All Stars. Sadly, Wendy Pepper passed away in 2017, leaving behind a legacy in the Project Runway community.

Austin Scarlett – Fourth Place

Austin Scarlett, a fan favorite for his flamboyant style and dramatic flair, has had a successful career post-Project Runway. He has worked for several bridal and evening wear companies and launched his own bridal collection. Austin has also co-hosted the TV show “On the Road with Austin and Santino.”

Nora Caliguri – Fifth Place

Nora Caliguri has shifted her focus from fashion design to film and television production. She has worked behind the scenes on various projects and continues to be involved in the entertainment industry.

Kara Janx – Sixth Place

Kara Janx is best known for her kimono dress design during the show. She has successfully launched her own fashion line, which includes bridal wear, and has been featured in numerous fashion publications.

Mario Cadenas – Seventh Place

Mario Cadenas left the show early in the season and has since kept a low profile in the fashion industry. Information about his current endeavors is limited.

Robert Plotkin – Eighth Place

Robert Plotkin was known for his tailoring skills on Project Runway. After the show, he returned to bartending and has not pursued a high-profile career in fashion design.

Starr Ilzhoefer – Ninth Place

Starr Ilzhoefer, who had less experience than her competitors on the show, has continued to work in design in a more private capacity, focusing on her personal life and family.

Kevin Johnn – Tenth Place

Kevin Johnn has worked as a designer for various fashion companies and has had his work featured in high-end department stores. He continues to work in the fashion industry.

Vanessa Riley – Eleventh Place

Vanessa Riley, who brought an international perspective to the show, has continued to design and has been involved in fashion education, sharing her knowledge with aspiring designers.

Daniel Franco – Twelfth Place

Daniel Franco appeared on both Season 1 and Season 2 of Project Runway. He has continued to pursue his passion for design and music, blending both in his creative endeavors.

Summary Table of Project Runway Season 1 Cast

DesignerPlacementCurrent Endeavors
Jay McCarrollWinnerFashion line, teaching, media projects
Kara SaunRunner-UpCostume design, fashion line
Wendy PepperThird PlacePassed away in 2017
Austin ScarlettFourth PlaceBridal collection, TV hosting
Nora CaliguriFifth PlaceFilm and TV production
Kara JanxSixth PlaceFashion line, bridal wear
Mario CadenasSeventh PlaceLow profile in fashion
Robert PlotkinEighth PlaceBartending, limited fashion work
Starr IlzhoeferNinth PlacePrivate design work
Kevin JohnnTenth PlaceFashion design for companies
Vanessa RileyEleventh PlaceDesign, fashion education
Daniel FrancoTwelfth PlaceDesign, music projects

FAQs About Project Runway Season 1 Cast

  • Who won Project Runway Season 1?
    Jay McCarroll was the winner of the first season of Project Runway.
  • Have any of the Season 1 designers returned to Project Runway?
    Yes, Daniel Franco returned for Season 2, and Wendy Pepper competed in Project Runway All Stars Season 2.
  • Did any of the Season 1 designers become successful?
    Many of the designers have found success in various areas of fashion and entertainment, such as Kara Saun in costume design and Austin Scarlett in bridal wear.
  • Are any of the Season 1 designers no longer working in fashion?
    Some designers, like Robert Plotkin, have pursued careers outside of the fashion industry.
  • Where can I find the designs of the Season 1 contestants?
    Many of the designers have their own websites and social media profiles where they showcase their work.


The cast of Project Runway Season 1 has taken various paths since their time on the show. While some have continued to make their mark in the fashion industry, others have found new passions or have sadly passed away. Their journeys reflect the unpredictable nature of the fashion world and the diverse opportunities it offers. As Project Runway continues to inspire new generations of designers, the legacy of its first season’s cast remains a testament to the show’s impact on their careers and lives.

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