Making it work
Project Runway's Top Gunn discusses Spanx, fashion don't's, and how his showlost its mojo
It’s always refreshing to meet a celebrity — especially those who appear on reality shows — and find they are exactly who they are on-screen and off. Without exception, Tim Gunn falls into that category right down to his penchant for polysyllabic wording and his desire to find out what you think, even though he’s the one being interviewed. Gunn held court at The Galleria as part of a Spring 2010 Fashion Show on Saturday, much to the delight of the female-heavy crowd who proclaimed their love and more importantly respect for him and his style advice.
Dressed in a dark suit, his trademark glasses slipping down his nose, Gunn admitted he’s the luckiest guy in the world. Most know him as the voice of reason on Project Runway, but he is an educator first and wouldn’t trade his years at Parsons: The New School of Design where he is the honorary chair of fashion design, for anything.
“I’m thrilled to be in this position and nobody is more shocked than I am. Project Runway happened after I was 50 and I am very well-grounded for all this to be happening now,” Gunn said backstage before the fashion show.
He delivered his thoughts carefully and honestly. And after seven seasons on the hit reality show, Gunn has definite thoughts about the direction it should be going.
“When we first launched we were trailblazing and now we aren’t doing that. I am very heavily invested in the quality of the show, I love the show but we don’t need to see me standing at the door telling the designers, 'Ten minutes everybody',” Gunn said.
He isn’t particularly fond of the way the producers handled the show after it moved from Bravo to Lifetime and feels they had to prove a point. An especially troubling producer decision? The move to Los Angeles.
“We should have never gone to L.A. to do that first season on Lifetime and I am confident we will never go back there again,” Gunn said. Despite his frustration with the show, he’s clear about the current cast.
“I believe the Season Seven designers are the strongest ever. Sure there have been some clunker looks, but the designs are so ambitious,” Gunn said.
He has wrapped up a second book, which he describes as “morality tale." It's in stores Sept. 7. He relied on advice from his good friend Diane Von Furstenburg for his first book, Tim Gunn: A Guide to Quality, Taste & Style. But in his latest publishing endeavor he gives advice based on his own experiences.
He was at ease during the fashion show where his trademark honesty punctuated his thoughts on fashion and style. One of the biggies is that not every look is for every woman.
“Rompers, short shorts and gladiator sandals should not be worn just because they are a trend,” Gunn said. The boyfriend sweater, legging and jeans in lighter washes are also Gunn no-nos.
He gives his seal of approval to lots of other items, though.
- Trench coats are a basic fashion must
- Halter dresses and tops work for many women because the straps are adjustable, giving lots of options
- Horizontal stripes work depending on scale and color waves
- Jeans should be dark and fall straight to the widest part of the hip
- And when and in doubt, always add a cardigan
“Cardigans can save you in all kinds of ways, especially if you are arm and shoulder shy,” Gunn said.
He raves about foundation garments too, admitting he just tried the new Spanx for Men and lived to tell about it.
“I almost dislocated my shoulders trying to get out of it. It gives me even more respect for you women,” he said amid cheers and laughter from the crowd.
Perhaps the single biggest reason Gunn is much-loved is because of his philosophies.
“Listen to your own voice. One reason why people love Project Runway is it shows hard work and honesty are rewarded. Quality matters,” Gunn said.
And that, he knows first hand.