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Q&A with Tim Gunn

Liz Claiborne Inc. and Project Runway’s Tim Gunn chats with the Current about the “Lucky You Runway Contest,”

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

What were you doing for her?
I was hosting a teen design fair through the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum here in New York and it coincided with the National Design Awards Lunch that she hosts annually. And she said, “We have all these great designers here and we should expose these young high school students to them.” And she asked if I would give the keynote, and I said I’d do it in a heartbeat.

That’s excellent.
We had about 200 students and she invited about 15 of them back to the White House for lunch.

Working as chief creative officer for Liz Claiborne and then also on Project Runway, how do you find time for things like that or say to work on a project like The Smurfs Movie?
I'll be honest with you Bryan, I'm about a hair shy of a psychotic breakdown [laughs]. It's hard to juggle. I have to admit, I’ve had a great career... and to have all this phenomenal fun stuff happen to you after you turn 50? I mean it’s surreal. First of all, I really appreciate it. And secondly, I know it won’t last forever, so I’m enjoying it while I can. Really, it’s great. And to add to the psychoses, I have to turn in the manuscript to my next book tomorrow. So I’m sitting here, going through and editing every page. But it looks good.

Do you ever tell yourself to “make it work”?
Yes, I say it everyday.

So, you’re not sick of people saying that to you, then.
Oh no, I consider it to be a great compliment.

Have you ever worn anything made by one of the Project Runway contestants or winners?
That's a really good question [pauses]. Yes, I have a jacket, a sport coat I should say.

Who made that?
By Emmett McCarthy … Season 2. Emmett was a menswear designer for 15 years.

I visited Chloe Dao in Houston and I think she was carrying his clothes in Lot 8.
I’ve been to Lot 8 also. It’s fun.

I heard you say showing too much skin is probably women’s biggest fashion mistake. What would you say is men’s?
Most men wear clothes that are simply too big for them. And it's not flattering. I’m always saying, “The more volume your clothes have, the more volume you appear to have.” And you know how men are. They shrug this whole thing off anyway, like, “Oh, I’m not supposed to be concerned with such matters.” Well, we should all be concerned with such matters. It’s the semiotics of clothes.

What about flip-flops?
In the right context they’re fine. I don’t think they belong on downtown city streets and certainly not in offices. In fact, the flip-flop has an incredibly powerful and potent legacy.

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