For every devious reality-TV contender who steals the show and hatches a beautiful new baby career, plenty of also-rans fall by the wayside, refusing to morph into Potential Psycho #323 or Unscrupulous Bastard #87 just for our TV-watching pleasure. This presumed reluctance was what recent Project Runway loser Emmett McCarthy offered as his excuse, although most of us were under the impression that his ultra-revealing skating ensemble was the true culprit (characterized as “too much tootie” by Elle‘s Anne Slowey). That said, it was interesting to learn that McCarthy just opened his own women’s boutique on Elizabeth Street, not so coincidentally timed with the conclusion of the show. Doofy boutique-name choice aside—EMC²? —McCarthy is apparently craftier and more talented than he seemed to be on the show. We attended the store opening last week to see for ourselves.
On Project Runway, McCarthy’s appearance was that of the unerringly dapper WASP, one of our city’s beloved lost Gatsby types hell-bent on resurrecting spats or straw hats for one jolly last hurrah—or a trip to CVS for more Charmin Extra Bouncy. We mistakenly assumed McCarthy would be stocking his new shop with clothes for a female Gatsby, but all the guests at the opening—including the single other Runway contestant in attendance, Diana Eng—were downing their fresh-watermelon-puree cocktails while sifting through a collection aimed not at Daisy Buchanan but at a trend-seeking Hamptonite. A lot of the items were similar to what you’d find at Scoop or Intermix: the ubiquitous Moroccan belt; resort-ready jersey-knit dresses with decorative inserts for the 0.002% of humanity who actually seek out resort wear; a white jersey-knit top heavily beaded at the collar, negating the need for a necklace but fulfilling that vital unspoken requirement at the Scoop store—everything must go with Earnest Sewn jeans. There were a few odd pieces, like a teal Pucci-esque coat that might sit better with a loaded Miami granny than her boob-baring young granddaughter. Still, it’s possible McCarthy received an undeserved bad rap on the show. His simple, elegant halter dresses in silk and linen are cut in a kind, universally flattering fit, emphasizing what’s up top while gliding mercifully over our adorable guts. This is what you should expect from a $340 gown, yet don’t always receive.