DOCUMENT: Celebrity, Internet

Tina Brown In Beastly Hoax

Online newcomer falls for embarrassing "Project Runway" gown prank

The Daily Beast

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Tina Brown In Beastly Hoax

NOVEMBER 10--Welcome to the Internet, Tina Brown.

Barely a month into her stewardship of a new web site, the venerable editor has fallen for a hoax and published a bogus design for an Inaugural Ball gown for the new first lady, a sketch purportedly created by a "Project Runway" winner.

Brown's site, The Daily Beast, reported last week that designer Jay McCarroll, who won the first season of the popular Bravo TV series, had agreed to participate in a challenge to design a gown that was "stylish, patriotic--and appropriately thrifty for a recession." As seen here, Brown last Thursday posted McCarroll's supposed contribution (and a couple of quotes from him) along with sketches by eight other "Project Runway" alums.

The drawing, however, was not done by McCarroll. It was actually the work of a Canadian college student who was enlisted in the hoax by one Jay McCarrol, a Toronto musician who was mistakenly contacted by a journalist who thought McCarrol was McCarroll (note that the fashion designer has an extra 'l' in his surname).

In early October, writer Hailey Eber went to and, via a contact form on the site, sent a letter regarding the Inaugural Ball gown challenge. Eber, then an associate editor at Radar, wrote that the publication was soliciting "our favorite designers" to create a gown that would be featured in the magazine, resulting in "publicity to designers like yourself in a general interest, national magazine with a circulation of 250,000."

[After Radar shut down last month, Eber's story--which was slated for the magazine's December/January issue--was published in Brown's The Daily Beast.]

Unbeknownst to Eber, her pitch mistakenly landed in the inbox of McCarrol, 25, and not her intended target, the 34-year-old fashion designer whose web site is

The musician's site, though, offered plenty of clues that it was not the home of the flamboyant clothing designer. McCarrol's site makes no mention of fashion or "Project Runway." It includes McCarrol's biography, MP3 downloads of a few songs, the cover of his self-titled CD, and information about film scores he has done. A photo of the musician can even be found on the Contact page, from which Eber sent her initial note.

McCarrol is pictured above at right, while McCarroll is at left.

In an interview last night, McCarroll confirmed that he did not contribute the gown design credited to him by Brown's web site. Though McCarroll said he had been in contact with his lawyer about The Daily Beast's story, he appeared bemused by the prank, wondering, "Why would anyone waste so much time?" McCarroll added, "People need to get hobbies," and suggested that McCarrol might have better spent his time writing a new song.

The musician, who told TSG he has previously received fan mail intended for the fashionista, said he was just "fucking around" when he decided to take Eber up on her offer to design an inaugural gown. "I couldn't sketch a dress and make it passable," McCarrol said, so he asked a 20-year-old friend, a student at Toronto's Ryerson University, to design the gown.

McCarrol, who provided TSG with copies of his correspondence with Radar, forwarded his friend's sketch to Eber, who approved of the gown. "Awesome, thanks so much Jay! I love it," she wrote on October 8. The Daily Beast described the burlap-accented gown as a "cocktail-length frock with a surprising amount of sex appeal for a sack-based garment." Commenting on the sketch, Simon Doonan, the Barneys creative director, said, "Jay McCarroll--he himself--would make a fabulous first lady. He would totally do justice to the candy-cane legs and platforms."

Along with the sketch, McCarrol included an artist statement, from which The Daily Beast quoted in its story: "From concept to cut this dress is symbolic of the new found responsibilities we as Americans have attained in light of our country's economic crisis. The idea is simple, we as Americans need to live within our means, get back to basics, and rebuild a solid foundation to live upon."

McCarrol then added, "God bless America bitches."

McCarrol learned via an e-mail last week from Eber that his sketch was included in her story on The Daily Beast (the gown piece has been picked up by numerous blogs, Us Weekly, and other publications). "Everyone loves it, and I've been telling the story to my friends, and they've been going crazy," said McCarrol, whose second web site,, features comedic videos.

For her part, though, Brown was not as thrilled with McCarrol's hoax. "Oh, my God," she said, "We'll have to correct that." The page with the bogus McCarroll design was yanked from Brown's site about 15 minutes after she spoke this morning with a TSG reporter. "This is the first I'm hearing of it," Eber said when informed of McCarrol's scam. She added that she needed to first speak with her editor before commenting further. (3 pages)