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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

I can imagine. So for instance with their ad campaigns and things like that, do you have a hand in that?
I really don’t. If asked, I’ll weigh it on it. But generally speaking, no. I’m much more about the product, and about sourcing and production than I am about advertising campaigns. I mean I’m certainly interested in them. But I don’t weigh in on them.

You once mentioned on Project Runway that you’d be more likely to maybe paint or draw versus make clothes. Is that something that you do in the little spare time that you have?
It’s something that I do to illustrate a thought that I have. I’ll just pull out a Sharpie and say, “Here, it looks like this.” More as a mental vision. You may or may not know this, but I was educated as a fine artist and ended up being a sculptor.

So when was the last sculpture you created?
Oh God. Oh, probably in the late 1970s. When I started teaching, I found that teaching was such a purging and cathartic creative exercise for me that I felt sort of purged and I didn’t feel the need to make my work any longer. And I spent a number of years feeling very apologetic about it, and I thought, “Why? I don’t need to do this to prove myself. I can still be a perfectly viable teacher and I know how to do it.” So it’s been a long, long time. And I have to tell you this: Working with designers for so long, for more than 30 years, I have such huge respect for designers and what they do. And in many ways they’re in the service for a public good. They make the world a better place. And when I look at what fine artists do today, I just think it looks so self-indulgent. And I don’t know if I could actually return to it. I have an appreciation for it; I have art in my home. … I would be much more inclined to do something more design-related. 

I just think people are fascinated by what you might do off the set.
I write a lot, so that’s also an outlet for me.

I love your comment about being in the Witness Protection Program.* Do you have any sort of friendly relationship with Anna Wintour now?
[Laughs] Well, let me put it this way. In any environment that I think she might be present, my radar is up and highly tuned-in. Because I want to be able to navigate around her; she wants to be able to navigate around me, too. Trust me. [I attended] a dinner for Narciso Rodriguez and she was there and they were probably five tables in and I was seated next to her daughter Bee, who is lovely — just gorgeous and just incredibly articulate and funny and smart and we just had a great time. And every time I looked over at Ms. Wintour’s table, she’d be staring at us like, “Die scum, die.” It was funny to be seated next to her daughter.

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