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REALITY BITES IN THE REAL WORLD OF FASHION

  

picture - Eleven MinutesFilm Review

by William Gooch

published March 6, 2009

 

Eleven Minutes

rated R

now playing in select theaters

 

Glamorous supermodels, eccentric designers, exciting runway productions and clothes too expensive for the average consumer immediately come to mind if one is to believe the industry propaganda that proliferates the current crop of fashion-related reality shows. In Michael Seldtich and Rob Tate’s documentary Eleven Minutes, we get a fly-on-the-wall look at what it really takes for an emerging designer to launch a clothing line and produce a credible runway show at New York City’s media-driven, celebrity-glutted Fall Fashion Week.

  

picture - Eleven MinutesThe emerging designer of choice for this all-too-real documentary is Jay McCarroll, Project Runway’s first season winner. Since refusing management representation and the $100,000 cash prize that accompanied his Project Runway victory, the fashion world has anticipated this enfant terrible’s first collection. Eleven Minutes documents McCarroll’s circuitous journey from finding a sponsor for his New York Fashion Week runway show to battling with his PR firm over anything and everything, juxtaposed against the pressures of putting together a cohesive collection. Expressing frustration at the enormous cost in putting together a collection, McCarroll sarcastically comments that “he will have to sell crack cocaine on the street” in order to finance his line.

 

For those fans of Project Runway, irreverent outbursts and bitchy repartee define McCarroll’s personality. Eleven Minutes has plenty of McCarroll’s blasphemous verbosities, as well as no-holds-barred musings from the staff of McCarroll’s PR firm, People’s Revolution. Where Project Runway would have edited out some guttural exchanges and true-to-life attitudes that dominate the fashion world, Eleven Minutes celebrates all the rough edges and quirky personalities. “Project Runway is fabulous, but it is fantasy land and we wanted to show [the fashion world] the way it really is; we didn’t want to shoot it like Project Runway, we didn’t edit like Project Runway, the stories aren’t told like Project Runway … we wanted to go back to old school documentary style … we wanted to show the process and document what Jay was doing,” say directors Michael Seldtich and Rob Tate.

 

picture - Eleven MinutesEleven Minutes also shines in its documentation of the business acumen and infrastructure needed to produce a clothing collection, as well as the media madness an emerging celebrity designer has to manage. Exhausted and annoyed by Kelly Cutrone, president of People’s Revolution, McCarroll rants, “Out of the forty designers she represents, I am the one that gets the most press.” The many fire-and-brimstone exchanges between Jay McCarroll and Kelly Cutrone are classic. Also worth noting is Seldtich and Tate’s presentation of the potentially implosive pressure cooker that emerging designers are forced to create in. They brilliantly demonstrate that talent and training is not enough. It takes money, money, and more money. Horatio Alger stories don’t apply here.

 

Although Eleven Minutes’ panoramic scope dulls the flash and sparkle associated with the fashion industry, Eleven Minutes does not diminish the passion designers bring to their collections. By doing what good documentaries are supposed to do, Eleven Minutes gets rid of the rose-colored glasses and gives us a purview that is clear and always entertaining.

 

williamgooch @ stageandcinema.com

 

 

Eleven Minutes opened in New York, San Francisco, West Hollywood, and Tempe, Arizona on February 20, opened in Hollywood, CA on February 27, and opens in Philadelphia on March 6.

 

read William Gooch's interview with Jay McCarroll

 

 

 

 
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