Tim Gunn had a night to remember Monday at the 59th Annual Parsons Fashion Benefit and Fashion Show at the Grand Hyatt New York.
The “Project Runway”; television personality learned that his new employer, Liz Claiborne Inc., established a $350,000 scholarship in his name at Parsons The New School for Design, and that Parsons, his old employer, named him honorary chair of fashion design. Gunn joined Claiborne this year in the new post of chief creative officer after almost 25 years at Parsons, where he most recently had been chair of fashion design.
“In one part the honorary title is an acknowledgment of our debt to [Gunn], and the other part it is anticipating maintaining a close relationship with him in the future,”; said Tim Marshall, dean of Parsons. “It’s also an acknowledgement that our loss was [Claiborne’s] gain.”;
Claiborne set up the onetime endowment with provisions that Gunn work with Parsons to define how the money will be allocated. Company chief executive officer William L. McComb said he hoped the gift would demonstrate Claiborne’s endorsement of Gunn’s continued involvement with the school, as well as its belief in Parson’s role in educating talent for the industry. Parsons estimates that 70 percent of the design talent on Seventh Avenue has been educated at Parsons.
Gunn spent most of his 24-year career at Parsons as associate dean of the school. He was appointed chair of the fashion design program in 2000, responsible for remaking Parsons’ curriculum for the 21st century. In 2004, Gunn began appearing as the taskmaster on Bravo’s “Project Runway.”;
Gunn, whose hiring was announced three months ago, started the first week of March. He is going through “an intensive learning program modeled after what I put myself through,”; said McComb, who arrived from Johnson & Johnson six months ago to take the top job at the apparel giant.
Not including Claiborne’s gift, Monday’s benefit raised more than $3 million. Former president Bill Clinton made opening remarks about the evening’s honoree, Susan D. Kronick, vice chair of Federated Department Stores Inc., who was introduced by Oscar de la Renta. Federated has led the fund-raising charge, according to Parsons. The event centered around a runway show featuring the best work of Parsons’ graduating fashion design students, and for the first time, the school presented awards for both Womenswear and Menswear Designers of the Year.
This story first appeared in the May 1, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
More than 1,000 guests were on hand, including Federated chairman, president and chief executive officer Terry Lundgren; Diane von Furstenberg; Donna Karan; Peter Som; Mark Badgley, and James Mischka.