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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,”

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And I, in prior seasons, have always felt any one of these 16 individuals could win this season, anyone of them could win. And I wasn't as confident this season owing to issues like the one with Fallene for instance.

When you’re not in the workroom, are you in some way watching what’s happening, watching their progress? And are the judges able to see what’s happening in the workroom?
I live there practically, I mean I live on the set. So when I'm not in the workroom, yes I'm in the production room, I'm watching what's happening on the camera. And it actually helps me know some of the things I want to weigh in on when I go into the workroom. For instance, I'm never present for the fittings with the exception of last week’s challenge when we had the Sheepdogs, the music group. I was at the fittings because I wanted to make certain that they weren't getting stuck with pins and having things glued onto them. I just wanted to protect them, because originally they were not going to be on the runway, we were going to use professional models. And when the producers and I met the Sheepdogs, and they're just so charismatic and such great guys, and we said, “How would you feel about walking the runway?” And they said they didn’t want to walk it, but they would perform on it. And that’s what ended up happening. But accordingly, I felt very paternal towards them and protective so I wanted to be in the workroom for the fittings. It’s never happened before. And we’re already asking if next season we should change thing up a bit. Because I’d like to be at the fittings. I watch them from cameras, but I’m not there. So I can’t really weigh in on them. And I don’t want the designers to think I’m a spy. But I am.

I thought the performance was the perfect way to mix it up and it’s cool to see the show evolving in the ninth season.
Oh, I’m so glad to hear you say that. Thank you.

Of all the brands underneath the Liz Claiborne umbrella, which one would you say has the most potential for growth in maybe an avant-garde direction?
In an avant-garde direction?

Or a 'wow' direction. Are there any surprises under Liz Claiborne’s umbrella that you might have a hand in?
Well, I have to tell you I’m not designing. I’m not editing. I work with the designers and with the merchants. I give critical feedback. I’m there as a cheerleader or a shoulder to cry on and their advocate at the executive level for their needs. But I’m very respectful of what they do. And I will say I’m a big champion for innovation and for things being fresh and new. And in that sense I think that all of them have potential for wowing us. We have new creative directors at many of the brands and the founders of a number of the brands have gone away. And I will say about the founders that they can be sort of stuck in one place and be rather impractical, so just to not have them there so we can move the needle… and I’m not talking about everything. But the great unknown here is: what will the customer actually respond to? Because you don’t want to alienate your customer base. At the same time you want to leave them the product that they might not otherwise experience, so it’s a tricky thing.

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