New York Fashion Week is always a busy time for Tim Gunn, but this week several new projects are keeping him especially hopping.
Not only is this Gunn's first show season as chief creative officer for Liz Claiborne Inc., the former Parsons The New School of Design dean is also promoting his new show that premieres on Bravo tonight at 10. Unlike "Project Runway," which generated his reality TV fame, "Tim Gunn's Guide to Style" is born out of that fame, so its promotion is a top priority this week.
The "grueling and challenging" shooting schedule that has been monopolizing his time ended just two weeks ago, after demanding long hours since May. From his office at Claiborne, Gunn let TV cameras film a full schedule of media interviews Tuesday morning. Interviews with Conan O'Brien, the "Today" show and "The View" followed. On Wednesday, Bravo and Entertainment Weekly hosted a kickoff party on the eve of the premiere on the lawn of the Soho Grand Hotel.
Unlike traditional makeover shows, the eight episodes of the "Guide to Style" — inspired by Gunn's new book "A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style" — are "not an intervention," Gunn said. Hundreds of women reached out to the show and Bravo chose eight, all within a 30-mile radius of New York and each bringing her own age, size and fashion challenges. Also, unlike other shows, Gunn puts the makeover subject in charge of her own decisions (with his advice, of course).
This freshman season has the element of surprise, as its participants did not know the format going in. Each makeover begins with the purging of the closet, dividing every piece into keepers, menders, giveaways and throwaways "for the pieces no one should be wearing," Gunn said. Co-host Veronica Webb asks to see each woman's lingerie drawer and fits the participants for the appropriate bra size. Then Gunn uses OptiTex software — used at Parsons to design clothes — to create a computer fit model to take away the "veil of denial of a mirror" in preparation for the shopping experience, he said.
Of course, Gunn also plans to fit in runway shows this week, including Diane von Furstenberg, Tracy Reese, Catherine Malandrino, Lela Rose, Proenza Schouler, whose designers are Parsons alumni, and Narciso Rodriguez, whose brand Claiborne bought a 50 percent stake in this spring. Time permitting, he also hopes to stop by the presentations for Dana Buchman and Ellen Tracy, "since they are family," he said of the two bridge brands Claiborne is trying to sell.
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