NEW YORK — For the first time in three decades, Tim Gunn is not returning to the classroom this fall after summer break.
But the former chair of the department of fashion design at Parsons The New School for Design, who is now chief creative officer at Liz Claiborne Inc., won't be missing back-to-school entirely.
Gunn, along with In Style magazine and Richard Ostell, vice president and creative director of Liz Claiborne apparel, is the host of a "Back-to-School Style" event to promote the Liz Claiborne brand at Macy's Herald Square on Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. for 250 women. Claiborne expects about half of them to be teachers.
"Teachers are role models and mentors, and they need to be dressing for that role," Gunn said. "The way they dress sends an incredibly potent message, and what I would say to teachers is something I would say to most people: 'Be careful about how much skin you are revealing, in terms of propriety and appropriateness.'"
The promotion comes as Claiborne has acknowledged that its relationship with Macy's has hit a rough patch over the Liz & Co. diffusion line, which the $4.99 billion vendor launched exclusively with J.C. Penney Co. Inc. Macy's is cutting back on the Liz Claiborne brand product it carries. The event is the type of cooperative relationship that Claiborne chief executive officer William L. McComb has said he wants partnered brands to have with retailers.
The evening will begin with comments from Gunn, and will include a Liz Claiborne brand fall runway show, moderated with commentary from Ostell. A team from Claiborne will help women on the floor shop, and Gunn will sign copies of his new book "Tim Gunn: A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style," which is free with the purchase of at least $100 in Liz Claiborne product.
"Liz Claiborne the designer really founded the brand based on dressing for work and, with Richard Ostell, we are really seeing fashion again in the line," Gunn said. "The Liz Claiborne brand can really help teachers in their role. These clothes resonate fashion without stepping out too far, are versatile and affordable — you can do this even if you are very budget-minded."
A Stella McCartney sketch of a custom dress made from protein-based silk in partnership with biotech lab Bolt Threads. The dress will be displayed at The Museum of Modern Art's upcoming design exhibition, "Items: Is Fashion Modern?"