Tim Gunn: Professor Launches Design School to Stardom

Tim Gunn is to fashion what a star coach of a winning team is to football.

The Project Runway host, with model Heidi Klum, made already prestigious Parson's School of Design in New York into an international icon.

Along the way, Gunn was transformed into a brand name.

This was no small feat for a man who, basically, was an egghead professor.

He was chair of Parson's Fashion Department until 2007, when he joined Liz Claiborne as its chief creative officer.

From Classroom to Red Carpet

The Project Runway TV show aired its 15th season in 2016 on Lifetime.

Tim Gunn joined the ranks of the truly famous, interviewing movie stars on the red carpet for the Oscars in Hollywood.

The Project Runway host is one of the most sought-after contemporary style gurus and appears to be a really nice guy.

His patrician drawl bespeaks time long spent in the fashion and art worlds of Manhattan.

It's hard to hold that against him as Gunn handily sidesteps stereotypes of fashion industry cattiness by showing heart and thoughtfulness toward others.

Tim Gunn Seems to Be an All-Around Nice Guy

Unlike other reality TV stars who revel in nastiness, Gunn apologized to one fashion makeover candidate on his Bravo TV Guide to Style. The poor woman burst into tears after her underwear drawer was earmarked as trash.

Some reality TV hosts are hired for their skill humiliating other people onscreen.

Gunn launches his personal makeovers from the foundation of his strong education in fashion design.

He builds a wardrobe systematically, starting with the purchase of the 10 items every woman needs in her closet.

Tim Gunn Is Style Exemplar

Impeccably suited himself, the Project Runway host provides a welcome change from the casual wear that has swept our culture.

Jeans have somehow become appropriate for every occasion, and it's nice to see someone who does not embrace this un-style choice.

He also is an exemplar by avoiding snarky comments and focusing on positive ideals.

On the Project Runway TV show, each season Tim Gunn assembles a gaggle of bright, creative young designers who compete for top honors and a chance to exhibit their creations during New York's fashion week.

Assignments include such offbeat constraints as making an outfit from only materials found in a grocery store or one that blends the designer's and model's astrological signs.

Project Runway TV Show Helps Young Designers

Many of the designers are extremely bright, intelligent, gay or all three. Quite a few arrive having received little recognition for their quirky genius. Being selected for the program is a big lift for them.

Gunn does a great job of nurturing the students and motivating them to do their best through various crises.

He uses the sandwich approach to criticism - he tells what he likes, takes responsibility for what he doesn't like as a personal opinion, and leaves the rest to the ingenuity of the student.

In his first book, Tim Gunn: A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style (Tim Gunn's Guide to Style), he points out that his tag line - Make it work - is one that all of us can use as we adapt our wardrobes and wardrobe budgets to our lives and changing figures.

He has authored other books since.

My Project Runway Challenge: Design for Older Women

Gunn expounds his fashion philosophy in The Guide to Style book. This slim volume is practical, but I confess it has taken me two years to make my way through it. The publisher did the little tome no favor by limiting the illustrations to a few line drawings.

Fashion needs photos and color ones at that.

Tim, if you stumble your way to this little old website, I have a fashion challenge for The Project Runway designers.

Devote an entire season to creating stylish clothing for the needs and figures of middle-aged women. We have larger hips and upper arms, as Ronni Bennett points out in her incisiveness article, Elder Fashion - An Oxymoron

Take us older women out of the shadows. Let our beauty be affirmed.

The season could even set the feet of one of these creative, bright young people on the path toward being a major force in designing for this market.

Listen to our pleas for comfort that also is flattering. And affordable. And Tim, could you start with me?

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> > Tim Gunn, Fashion Entrepreneur

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