We’re going old school this week with our Project Runway interview series! Back in the day, when Project Runway was just peaking in popularity, and still on the Bravo network, a very handsome young designer, Jack Mackenroth, was making his mark from week to week. It has been seven years since the airing of the series, and Jack has made his way in the world, not best known for his sportswear design, but for his work as a model and an HIV+ spokesperson. We recently got in touch with Jack, and he shared some of his PR memories, but also let us know about the important work he is doing right now.
HOW JACK MACKENROTH MAKES IT WORK
1. Who are you, and what season/s did you participate in?
I was on season 4. I was doing well–never in the bottom 3, and won a challenge, but I had to leave the competition early because I got a very serious staph infection in my face, and had to go to the hospital.
2. Please give a brief description of your design style.
I was always a sportswear designer–primarily menswear. I design clothes that real people wear. I like subtle, special design details that make a piece original without saying “LOOK AT ME!”
3. What was the most challenging thing about the Project Runway experience BESIDES the challenges themselves?
Instafame is pretty crazy. Season 3 and 4 were at the height of the show’s popularity, so after the show aired I was inundated with emails and Facebook messages, and people stopped me on the street constantly. That took a lot of getting used to. But it also faded away pretty quickly. It still happens from time to time even 7 years later. It’s such a weird concept to think that people you don’t know know who you are.
The other thing that was incredibly challenging is the schedule. I don’t think viewers realize that we film the whole season in about 5 weeks. There are no days off and we sleep about 4-5 hours per night. It’s insanity.
4. Who have you met or worked with during or since the Project Runway experience that you are most proud of or excited about?
Well I am a bit of an anomaly compared to most of the other Runway Alumni. I decided to take my 15 minutes of fame and go in a different direction. In the year after the show I filmed 4 TV pilots (that never aired), and did a lot of red carpet hosting gigs. I had a cameo in the Sex and the City movie with SJP and all the girls.
I was also the first Runway designer to be open about my positive HIV status so that brought some amazing opportunities as well. I toured around the country for 4 years as the HIV spokesperson for Merck Pharmaceuticals, and I worked on an amazing HIV testing initiative, and photo campaign. We photographed TONS of celebrities–Sandra Bernhard, Billy Porter of Kinky Boots, Drag Race winner Bianca Del Rio, Senators and Congressmen, and on and on.
5. Besides the basics, what sewing notion or tool could you NEVER do without?
Definitely a seam ripper.
6. Is there anything else you’d like us to know or see?
PLEASE follow me on Twitter! I’m an addict. www.Twitter.com/jackmackenroth
You can also find more about Jack at: www.jackemackenroth.com!
Special thanks to Jack for taking the time to talk with us! We wish you all the best and commend you for your positive work and for being a role model to the HIV positive community! -C.S.