Project Sario


POSTED: Thursday, April 22, 2010

Jay Nicolas Sario might have been ousted by judges during the 13th episode of “;Project Runway”; that aired last Thursday, but he's already a winner in the court of public opinion.

To keep people guessing about the identities of the top three finalists in the Lifetime TV designer competition, 10 of the show's designers showed collections during New York Fashion Week two months ago. Even back then, less than halfway into the televised screenings, many bloggers and fashion writers were trying to guess the three finalists, and many were already picking Sario to win.

Elizabeth Holmes of the Wall Street Journal reported, “;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.”;

Her survey of former show contestants also indicated he was their pick to win.

That was not to be. Sario and Mila Hermanovski were chosen to duke it out for the last spot in the finals and, after eyeing three of their ensembles, judges picked Hermanovski to go up against Seth Aaron Henderson and Emilio Sosa in the finale.





”;Project Runway”; finale

Airs at 7 tonight on Lifetime


But don't feel bad for Sario, who's reconciled himself to the show's outcome and feels he accomplished his aim to be noticed as a designer.

“;I got some amazing write-ups and put on a good show,”; he said on the phone, while on a break from his visual merchandising/stylist job at TheGap in San Francisco. “;To be a successful designer, you have to move fashion forward, do innovative things, and I think I showed I'm capable of doing that.

“;Now, I just want to keep the momentum going. It's just the beginning of my career as a fashion designer, and I've heard from so many people who contacted me through Facebook. I'm so happy that people want to wear my stuff. It's all I could ask for.”;

;  There's nothing he can do with the finale collection he created for “;Project Runway,”; which the production company now owns, but he's already hard at work on his spring 2011 collection, to debut in September.

“;Creating a line is hard work, but I think there's a good amount of time till September.”;

In the meantime, Sario will be returning to Hawaii for a homecoming of sorts on the Honolulu Community College campus, and this time the judged will be a judge during the school's annual student fashion show Saturday. (See Pages 28 and 29 for details.)

Sario put in only one year in the school's two-year Fashion Technology program, leaving for San Francisco in 2004 and demonstrating the same sort of chutzpah that pushed him to audition for “;Project Runway.”;

“;I felt I had learned what I needed to know and didn't need to learn a lot anymore,”; he said. “;I was eager to go somewhere else where I felt I belonged, and I'm really happy I made that move.”;

He was able to apply everything he learned toward his job at TheGap, which has been his home for six years, and his bosses gave him their blessing to compete in “;Project Runway,”; which turned out to be an eight-month commitment. Shooting for five weeks of season seven started last June, and Sario returned to San Francisco to work on his collection before returning to New York in February to present his collection.

All the while, he was forced to keep mum about his status on the show.

“;I didn't tell anyone because I didn't trust anyone not to tell,”; he said. “;Even when my family went to see the show, they had no idea whether I'd been eliminated or not.”;

Sario was one of the show's quieter designers, and not just because being around the cameras was intimidating.

“;They were there every single minute, capturing every single word. It was definitely tough to be around it and I had to be careful of what I said because anything I said, big or small, could be manipulated.”;

What was not manipulated was the natural antipathy between him and his rival to the end, Mila.

“;People don't have to do much to annoy me, but she did that in a most effortless way, and it just built up. Her point of view (as a designer) irritated me. I was always like, 'What are these judges seeing that I don't see?'”;

All this has put him in a unique position to judge the senior designers at HCC on Saturday night.

“;I'm really excited to be coming back. I know people in Hawaii were rooting for me.”;

As for being in the judge's seat, he said, “;I'm not going to walk into it being judgmental about anyone. I don't know anything about the designers, what they love to do, their style. I just want to get the overall feel of their collection.

“;Hawaii is a different place. It's not L.A., it's not San Francisco. You can't just say harsh things. It's a very diplomatic place, but I do want to give instructive feedback because that's how I've learned. I think there is a way to be straightforward, and be nice about it.”;