far from home...
And I am nothing of a builder, but here I dreamt I was an architect
And I built this balustrade to keep you home, to keep you safe from the outside world
Found this interview of Tim Gunn by the Chicago Tribune from last year.
You heard it here first: Tim Gunn talks about Season 3 of 'Project Runway'
With aching fingers, I bring you my hourlong Thursday chat with Tim Gunn, mentor to the designers on "Project Runway," the third season of which concluded Wednesday night. Sorry, I'm posting this a bit later than I expected to, but here it is.
Without further ado, take it away, Tim!
How are you?
I’m so relieved that the last episode is over. I cannot adequately describe to you how relieved I am. Everybody knows Jeffrey’s won and the whole contretemps with him is behind us and it’s just great.
For my taste, Jeffrey was the clear winner. What was your thought?
I was thrilled with his win. Like everybody else in the world, I was so disappointed in Michael’s collection. I will tell you, the difference between his collection on that Friday at Bryant Park and the prior Monday when he arrived was night and day. He benefits so tremendously from feedback. He’s still young and among the final four he’s the least experienced of them. And it’s not good for him to work in a void, in a vacuum, and that’s what he did for close to three months.
All he needed was a little bit of feedback and pow, he problem-solved, he worked his way out of a couple of design jams, and he was just head and shoulders above where he’d been. It still wasn’t strong enough, but it just underscored for me how much incredible potential he has. And he will realize it.
So we kind of bracket Michael and put him aside, and we look at Laura and Uli and Jeffrey. And they all produced, in my opinion, superb collections. The difference between Laura and Uli and Jeffrey is that Laura and Uli didn’t really surprise us.
And with Jeffrey, he’s constantly innovating, he’s constantly experimenting, he’s constantly taking risks, and what’s inherent in all that is that you put yourself out on a limb. And you could crash and burn or you could ascend and he really ascended.
Going into the deliberation after the shows, I thought, I really don’t know how the judges are going to fall out over all of this. I had difficulty with that all season, because for most of the challenges, the outcomes were well executed, well presented, and then it became a matter of taste.
How was the judging this time, was it a huge torturous process?
I wouldn’t say it was torturous, though it was a little torturous because it was long. [There was] lot of debating.
What was the debate centered around?
It was that taste issue and whose designs epitomize, at least for the show, the next great American fashion designer? Is Laura too narrow? A lot of it was edited out.
I have to tell you who I adored in this whole process, that was [guest judge] Fern Mallis. She is the ne plus ultra of fashion people, she created Seventh on Sixth, she used to run the Council of Fashion Designers of America and she looks at fashion shows all over the world. And I will say she was blown away by the presentations of all four of them and we heard her say how disappointed she was in Michael’s collection.
She really leaped to a position of championing Laura and Uli in the face of some antipathy from Heidi, Nina and Michael, having to do with how narrow their scope is. And Fern said, [as for] Laura, there are a lot of rich ladies around in a lot of zip codes and they buy clothes. And I can see them buying these clothes. And they’re superbly conceived of and superbly executed. And with Uli, she said, you cannot trivialize the resort market. It’s enormous. It was great to have her there as another point of view.
There was a lot of debate, it wasn’t a matter of, ‘OK, it’s Jeffrey, let’s all leave and have a cocktail.’
It seems as though a number of fans were disappointed that it wasn’t Uli. Was she in the final running?
In the end, it was between Jeffrey and Uli. She really stepped up where she was on the show. Personally I loved it. It was refined, elegant, there were myriad customers who would wear those clothes, compared to Jeffrey, I have to say. But in terms of making a fashion statement with a capital F, Jeffrey made more of one.
It seemed to me Uli got too far away from what she had been known for.
Yeah, as I said on the show, ‘Uli, where are your prints? I miss them!’ It bears repeating, next to Diane von Furstenburg, no one works a print like Uli.
Speaking of non-print dresses, she wore a black cocktail dress on “The View” a couple of weeks ago that was just incredibly draped, so gorgeous.
I wonder if it’s what she wore last night [at the ‘Project Runway’ finale party]. I said, ‘I’ve never seen you in black before.’ It was stunning, she looked great. I said, ‘I know I said I miss your prints, but do the basic black dress for a while.’
She has a great talent for fitting clothes to a woman’s body in a unique way, she really knows how clothes move.
Absolutely. You know, all four of these guys, I just think they have the brightest futures. I’m so thrilled for them. I have a huge grin on my face and I hope I have it for a long time.
I really think it was the best set of final collections so far.
I totally agree. I was electrified during the entire thing, and I could tell by the audience reaction too. And the [magazine] editors who came backstage were just full of accolades, and they didn’t need to be. That’s a tough crowd. Everybody was like, ‘Oh, poor Michael,’ but for the other three, there was this palpable enthusiasm for their work.
But there’s a lot of good will for Michael, it seems.
Oh, tremendous good will.
And you know, his collection would work for a video, for a certain niche. It wouldn’t sell at Bergdorf’s, but it would work for a pop star.
It was very interesting, I sat behind Michael’s friends at the screenings, he was with all his guy friends from Atlanta, and as his collection was walking, they all kept slapping him on the back and going, ‘Man, Michael, that’s hot.’ And I kept thinking, how much of that collection was peer pressure. It’s idle speculation on my part, but they loved it so much.
And that was the kind of work, and Nina alluded to this last night, that was in his portfolio when he showed up for the auditions. I was dubious about putting him on the show and then did an about face when I realized how brilliant the guy is and how thoughtful. But again, he was gone for almost three months and he sort of drifted back into that thing. I thought, ‘We should have kept him in New York.’
You should have put him in a corner of Laura’s loft.
[laughter] There was enough room. She wouldn’t have known he was there.
How come there was no final piece they had to create when they arrived in New York? Was there enough drama with all the Jeffrey stuff?
Oh, there was more than enough drama. I will tell you, behind the scenes, there was talk of, ‘Do we need to do something to liven this up, to stress it up in a way’ in the workroom, because they were all getting along so well. But once the Jeffrey door was opened, it was like, we don’t need to do anything.
That was a serious investigation.
Is there a very detailed list presented to the finalists about what kind of outside help they can get and what they sort of help they can’t get, is that very explicitly explained?
Yes, and in terms of what Jeffrey did send out, it was completely within the rules. It’s just that we were missing a receipt, as we saw. He’s a great designer, but as I said to him, ‘Jeffrey, I hope you have a great business partner.’ Because when it comes to keeping good records and the details that a business requires, like in our case, the $8,000 worth receipts [that contestants needed to present], I said, ‘You’re well intentioned, but you’re sloppy.’ Everyone else had basically a spread sheet, where every item was in there and it was totaled and it was so easy to review it.
In Jeffrey’s case, it was a manila envelope, it was a bunch of loose receipts. Every route we went down with him, you just found more sloppiness. But it’s not unusual with fashion designers. It happens here with my students. I say, ‘Just don’t think that you can handle the books when you get out of here, because you can’t.’
Did he never take out a calculator and add up his receipts and see that he was over budget?
No. I guess he put it in a separate account and when it was empty, he was through.
Regarding whether he could have done that work – he did appear to have some problems with construction and finishing during the course of the show…
Yes, I’m in agreement.
Tim Gunn is actually my hero: Whenever I've had trouble in art or photography classes and was nearing an important deadline, instead of banging my head against a brick wall, I remembered Project Runway and repeated his mantra to myself, "Make it work." It worked. Thanks, Tim Gunn, for the difference you've made in my life... I owe you, big time.
I purchased his "Guide to quality, taste and style" book, but every time I read it I can hear Tim's voice in my head. HAHA!
The book is really great though, at least Iv'e learned alot from it. Even if you already know alot about fashion and styling there's still a thing or two you could learn from Tim Gunn.
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