'Project Runway' Star Tim Gunn Talks Coneys, Snooki, Prom, Fashion
The fashion expert will be at the Somerset Collection in Troy on Saturday to host a fashion show.
Things we know about Tim Gunn: He's a fashion genius, star of Project Runway, owner of the iconic phrase "Make it work" and chief creative officer of Liz Claiborne, which on May 15 will be known as Fifth & Pacific Cos.
But did you know he hates prom fashion, he's not a fan of Snooki and he's never eaten a coney dog (though he'd be willing to try one)?
Those are just a few of the things we learned about Gunn, who will be in Troy this weekend to host a fashion show at The Somerset Collection, during a phone interview with the fashion expert himself this week. Here's what Gunn had to say about Troy, the state of Michigan, fashion and more.
Update: For photos and video from Saturday's fashion show, click here.
Q&A with Tim Gunn
Troy Patch: Thanks for taking a moment to talk with us, Tim. We're very excited you're coming to Troy.
Tim Gunn: Thank you! We're excited, too. We love our events.
Troy Patch: You've been to Troy before, right?
Tim Gunn: We have. We've been to Somerset. I think this is our third time.
Troy Patch: What do you like about coming to Troy?
Tim Gunn: I have to say, the people are so lovely and so warm, and they're just very giving, and they give us a lot of very valuable feedback about our events. It's the people who make the events, and the people in Troy are just fabulous.
Troy Patch: Tell me a little bit about the show this weekend.
Tim Gunn: Leah (Leah Caruso Salak, director of marketing and special events) and I co-host the show, and what we're really concerned with is getting people information they can really apply to themselves or share with their friends. We'll be presenting designs from three brands – from Juicy Couture, Kate Spade New York and Lucky Brand Jeans. We'll present some looks where head-to-toe it will represent the brand, and we'll be mixing it up in other cases because people in their real life are probably not going to wear a brand head to toe. We show how you can take an item and transition it different ways, how you can take a look from day to night. We want people to come away from the show feeling a greater sense of confidence about really owning how they present themselves to the world and saying, you know, I could really be who I am. I don't have to be a copy of someone else. I don't have to look like that mannequin in the store – I can do this myself.
When you're shopping, be thinking about what's already in your closet, what's going to enhance your wardrobe. We don't want people spending money recklessly – we want them to be thoughtful about it and strategic about it. We love giving people that information, and also, we're truth-tellers. When working with an overblown print, we're going to say, this is not going to be great on someone who's petite. Our mantra is "try it on" and make no assumptions how it's going to look on you. That has to do with the style, the silhouette, the proportions and the color.
>>Want the latest news from Troy Patch? Sign up for our newsletter here<<
Troy Patch: What's trending right now – what's something stylish this year?
Tim Gunn: Broadly speaking, color is very on trend for spring and summer. We've had quite a lot of seasons where neutral has dominated, but color is really a dominant factor. We say to women who are nervous about color in their wardrobe – they're much more inclined to work with neutrals – that look, you can do it with accessories. It doesn't have to be your apparel. Slimmer pants are in, and we'll show various ways to wear those, and dresses are certainly in, which is great, from a work-appropriate dress or a conversion of the basic black dress, which is certainly a classic item, to maxi dresses. But with a maxi dress we say don't take it seriously, dress it down.
Troy Patch: Have you ever read Patch before?
Tim Gunn: I'm sorry to say no, I haven't, though we did an interview with Westchester Patch.
Troy Patch: Well, our color is green. Like, very, very, very green. Would you wear that color green, personally?
Tim Gunn: I can imagine doing it as a neck tie or even a pocket square. I mean, especially for me, that would be a difficult color to pull of in apparel. Maybe in a sweater, I could see that.
Troy Patch: Fair enough. Your degree is in sculpture, correct?
Tim Gunn: Yes.
Troy Patch: Do you still sculpt?
Tim Gunn: No, I haven't for years, and when I was teaching, I felt that I needed to be apologetic about it, and then I thought, why? I feel completely and totally sated creatively by teaching, and it was really after I started teaching that I just didn't feel the need any longer. That really absorbed all my creative juices.
Troy Patch: How often do you actually come to Michigan?
Tim Gunn: Well, I was in Michigan – and again, I'm having a brain fart, and I don't know how long ago I was in Michigan – but it wasn't that long ago. I was there for The Revolution maybe a couple months ago. I was in Detroit, so I was there fairly recently.
Troy Patch: So, have you had a coney dog?
Tim Gunn: (laughing) No, regretably, my cuisine's generally limited to whatever's on a room service menu because I fly in and I fly out.
Troy Patch: You know that's our standard cuisine here.
Tim Gunn: I know! Maybe I can have one this trip. But I'm flying in and out again, so I don't know if it'll happen.
Troy Patch: Oh, no! I'll try to bring you one Saturday.
Tim Gunn: Oh, that would be nice, thank you.
Troy Patch: So have you had any time to explore the area at all, or Somerset when you're there? Or do you just run in and run out?
Tim Gunn: I literally run in and run out, but I'd love to. It would be wonderful to have a little bit of padding on each side of our fashion shows, but I'm just not able to do it.
Troy Patch: Got it. Now, I do have some questions from readers, if you don't mind.
Tim Gunn: OK, try me.
Troy Patch: The first one is from Lisa, who has a 12-year-old daughter. She wanted to know: How do you stay so positive, and what advice would you have for young girls as far as dressing appropriately?
Tim Gunn: I will say that I do my best to have a positive outlook on things. For me, situations are innocent until proven guilty. I don't walk around with a rain cloud over my head thinking "woe is me" and doom and gloom about everything. And I look for positive aspects in people, as well. And when you spend as much time as I do interacting with people, if you don't have a positive outlook, you may as well just retreat to a cave.
And when it comes to appropriate dressing, it's a matter of not showing too much skin, to be perfectly honest. I don't like talking about it, but occasionally I will talk about the Snooki-ization of young women and teens – and a 12-year-old is about to be a teen. Parents have to draw a line in the sand and say "no." It's very, very important. I'm not saying that a 12-year-old girl should be dressed monastically, but at the same time, there is a tendency to oversexualize young women, and I feel it's hugely inappropriate, and parents need to have a role. And the reason I say parents have a right, and even an obligation, to step in is because they're paying for the clothes and the accessories. So, in a manner of speaking, they own them – not the 12-year-old.
Troy Patch: That's a really good answer, thank you. So now, Anita has this question: "Tim, I had heard that your sister has psoriasis. What would you suggest for summer wear during a flare up?"
Tim Gunn: Well the first thing I'd suggest if I were actually talking to my sister is that she go to a dermatologist because she hasn't been to one in years, and there are so many new developments in terms of the treatment of psoriasis, and I wish that she would find out that something new would help her. It's important to wear natural fibers and have clothes that skim rather than hug your body. Also, there are undergarments that wick moisture away from the body, and moisture can exacerbate the effects of psoriasis. It's about going natural with our clothes – synthetics will not breathe as well. It's about skimming, not hugging, and look at undergarments that can wick away moisture.
Troy Patch: She'll appreciate that answer, thank you. Now, if your closet was on fire and you could grab one thing from your closet, what would you grab?
Tim Gunn: (chuckling) It depends on what I was wearing at the moment. If I'm in my pajamas, I'm going to grab a robe. If I'm wearing jeans and a T-shirt, I might grab a blazer – that would be appropriate for a fire, wouldn't it? If I'm going to be out on the street, something that will make me as well prepared to meet the world as possible. So, a topper. A robe or a blazer. There's no time to change in those circumstances!
Troy Patch: Ha, that's true! So, as you know, we're the Motor City. Detroit is all about cars. So, what do you think is the trendiest car right now?
Tim Gunn: Oh, boy, Jen, I'm the least car-savvy person you've ever talked to. I haven't owned a car in 29 years, and I don't even have any fantasies about owning one. It's one of the reasons I love New York – I don't need a car. I have no idea what's trending. None!
Troy Patch: Can I ask you one last question about prom and what's trending? It's prom season here in all of our Michigan Patch sites.
Tim Gunn: Oh, boy, that's another bad question for me. I hate prom clothes. I hate, loathe and despise them. For some reason, young women think it's an opportunity to suddenly look like a hooker, and for young men – what's with all these pastel tuxedos? Who doesn't want to go classic with something black? I have to add that my heart goes out to young people, because I think the whole prom experience can be so incredibly painful. Just think about Cinderella and not about Snooki, that's my advice for the women.
Troy Patch: I love it! Thank you so much for your time, Tim. I really enjoyed speaking with you.
Tim Gunn: Thank you, too, Jen.