OUT magazine’s Popnography interview
Post Project Runway: Catching Up With Jack Mackenroth
Photo: Getty Images
Jack Mackenroth has accomplished what many of his fellow reality competitors have not: a life after Project Runway. A Renaissance man, Mackenroth is not only a fashion maven, he is now a TV and radio correspondent. HIV positive, Jack Mackenroth’s 20 year career is defined by enthusiasm, perseverance, but most all, the ability to use his life as a means for education and prevention (as well as discovering the latest style blunders).
Out: As the East Coast correspondent for Fashion News Live, do you think it is imperative for designers to be knowledgeable of other artists in the field? Who would you most like to interview?
Jack Mackenroth: I’ve always had a deep admiration for Diane Von Furstenberg. I think she is a goddess. I am a huge fan of prints and she is the queens of prints. (Then there is Prince who is just a queen.) Anyway — I would love the opportunity to get close to those cheekbones of hers.
I would also LOVE to interview Karl Lagerfeld. I know he’s quite a character and sometimes he’s really off the wall. But I would welcome that challenge. He’s a uber-prolific design genius. What’s not to love?
In retrospect, was participating in Project Runway the right decision? Would you recommend like reality shows for other designers?
I thoroughly enjoyed it. I would do it again in a heartbeat. However I think anyone entering into a reality show has to realize that it is heavily controlled by the producers. You truly don’t know what you are signing up for or how your ‘character’ will be received by the viewing audience. It can go either way. I think it can actually have a negative effect on a career. I went into Project Runway with no preconceptions. I just wanted a fun adventure and to meet cool people and that’s exactly what I got. Many people assume that you go on a TV show and get a bit of exposure and your become a huge superstar. So false. The public has the attention span of a goldfish. Also there is always another season of your show right around the corner.
Are you interested in pursuing more modeling gigs? And if so, what would be the ideal campaign?
Ha! Well I’m turning 40 this year so as long as people are asking I will keep doing it. Thank God for Photoshop. I used to be a model in the early 90’s but I was about 50 pounds thinner in order to fit the samples. Realistically now the only type of modeling I could do is fitness and physique shoots. I think it would be fun to do an underwear campaign. Move over Beckham.
Any interest in opening your own boutique similar to your West Village “Jack?”
Not really. Retail is really difficult. Especially now. You can see really well established businesses shutting their doors. If I ever presented my designs again for retail sale I think I would do it online.
When I opened “Jack” I was very young and niave. I loved designing the store, doing the windows and the merchandising but once that was all done I got bored really quickly. Numbers are a snore.
How would you classify your aesthetic as both a designer and correspondent?
My design aesthetic is very wearable. I like to create fairly simple designs that have an element of surprise. Lately I have been working on a series of dresses that have origami creations as sleeves and collars. That is fairly avant-garde for me. I am also fairly adaptable to whoever I might be designing for. I made this crazy ruffled, backless evening gown for Heather Tom for the daytime Emmy’s which was not something I would normally make but I was feeding off her taste and input.
— COURTNEY NICHOLS