REALITY BITES IN THE REAL WORLD OF FASHION
by William Gooch
published March 6, 2009
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.
The 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
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.
Eleven 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
read William Gooch's interview with Jay