Clutch loves Tim Gunn, so imagine our surprise when he discovered us on MySpace (of all places)! We know Mr. Gunn as the witty and stylish voice of reason on Bravo’s hit TV show Project Runway and now he, along with co-author Kate Moloney, is showing fans how to ‘make it work’ in a new book entitled A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style. Tim gave us the dish on everything from how he feels about past contestants of Project Runway to what it means to be truly stylish.

Clutch: What are you wearing right now?
Tim Gunn: I’m wearing a black Banana Republic suit (“the modern”) with a white dress shirt and black tie.

Clutch: What suggestions would you give to someone that is stuck in a fashion rut?
Tim Gunn: As Kate Moloney and I write in “Tim Gunn: a Guide to Quality, Taste & Style,” (published by Abrams Image) find inspiration in a fashion icon whom you admire. Bring your own critical analysis to that person’s look in order to understand how it can work for you, too.

Clutch: Are there any emerging designers that you have your eye on?
Tim Gunn: Indeed! Ashley Verrier, Vena Cava (Sophie Buhai and Lisa Mayock), Chris Benz and Jason Wu, among others.

Clutch: What trends (good, bad or ugly) do you see on the horizon?
Tim Gunn: Fashion is a big recycling ellipse! Take anything trendy that currently exists (the miniskirt has
made a come back), think of its polar opposite (the midi or maxi – please “no!” to the latter), and that’s the future.

Clutch: What trend would you like to see disappear?
Tim Gunn: All trends that reveal too much skin should vanish. A bared midriff is among my greatest pet peeves.

Clutch: To many people, fashion is a frivolous profession. What role do you think Project Runway has played in making the average American aware of the fact that being a designer is hard work and requires real talent?
Tim Gunn: I’m very proud that Project Runway has stripped fashion of the glossy patina and veiled mystery with which it was perceived. The show portrays the work of fashion designers as being gritty, daunting and demanding, which it is! If any individual watching the show says, “Project Runway inspires me to be a designer,” then come on board! And on the subject of fashion’s frivolity, would it surprise readers to know that fashion is the third largest industry in New York City? Only banking and health care exceed it.

Clutch: Why do you think Project Runway is so popular?
Tim Gunn: No one was more surprised than I at the popularity of the show. When we were taping season one, I thought, “Who’s going to watch this?” I had no idea that such a broad demographic of viewers would become addicted to watching the development of the creative process and to rooting forward their favorite design.

Clutch: What questions are you asked most often by fans of Project Runway?
Tim Gunn: The most frequent question asked of me is, “Are the design challenges really achieved in the limited amount of time that we see on the show?” Yes! And owing to the disclaimer that appears at the end of the show, I’m regularly asked, “Do the producers influence the judges’ decisions about who’s in and who’s out?” Never. The disclaimer states that the producers converse with the judges about their decisions when necessary. That means that if the judges are at an impasse or stalemate, the producers help facilitate a dialogue that can bring the decisions to closure.

Clutch: Are you excited about any of the work that is being done by the past contestants of Project Runway?
Tim Gunn: I’m exceedingly proud of the work of so many of the Project Runway alumni. The highlights include season one’s Austin Scarlett who is designing bridal wear for Amsale, and Kara Saun who has an extremely successful career as a costume designer for television. Among the season two designers, Chloe Dao has expanded her retail enterprise in Houston and is showing a diffusion line on QVC, Nick Verreos is designing red carpet gowns and lecturing on fashion nation-wide, and Emmett McCarthy has created fashion frenzy at his boutique EMc2 in Manhattan’s chic Nolita district. Season three winner Jeffrey Sebelia has expanded his Cosa Nostra line and is enjoying broader commercial success, as are Uli Herzner and Allison Kelly. Again, these are just a few highlights among many, many success stories.

Clutch: On the show, we always see you in a suit and tie. Do you ever dress down? If so, what is your idea of casual wear?
Tim Gunn: Actually, you’ll usually only find me in a tie on runway judging days. On other days I’ll wear a suit with an open shirt, or a jacket with a pair of jeans (yes, jeans!). During the taping of the season three reunion show, Heidi said, “I’ve never seen you in a pair of jeans.” She hadn’t and hasn’t because we only see each other on the runway judging days when I’m all buttoned, suited and tied up.

What celebrity (male or female) do you feel has impeccable style?
Tim Gunn: Oh, I have lots of favorites. Among the women are Sarah Jessica Parker, Debra Messing and Cate Blanchette. Among the men are George Clooney, Patrick Dempsey and Anderson Cooper.

To purchase Tim Gunn: A Guide to Quality, Taste & Style log-on now to Amazon.com

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