'Project Runway' star Tim Gunn leaving Parsons for Liz Claiborne
By Christopher Rocchio, 02/01/2007
First Project Runway star Tim Gunn got his own TV show, now he's getting a new job. Liz Claiborne Inc. has announced that, after spending the last 23 years at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City, Gunn will become the company's new chief creative officer.
According to Liz Claiborne, Gunn's new position will make him responsible for "attracting, retaining and developing the creative talent within the Liz Claiborne Inc. portfolio of brands," which includes women's and men's apparel, accessories and fragrance products.
"Though this is not something I had envisioned for myself, I jumped at the chance to serve as a mentor, advisor and sounding board for the design and merchandising community within Liz Claiborne Inc.," said Gunn. "The talent that currently exists at Liz is phenomenal and I am up to the challenge of harnessing and focusing such strength."
"Words cannot express how happy we are to have Tim on board as our 'Creative Dean,'" William L. McComb, Liz Claiborne's chief executive officer, gushed in the company's announcement of Gunn's hiring.
"[Gunn's] mission is twofold: return our culture to one that is friendlier to the creative process and help shape more competitive, consistent and compelling product. To be clear, this role is not that of master editor -- the divisions will continue to have full control of the brand positioning and product design. Rather, Tim will be a spokesperson for the creative community, a champion of product innovation, integrity and exceptional price-value and a catalyst for the creation of the irresistible product our consumers want and deserve. He is also charged with creating systems to further develop our creative community and scouting the market for great talent."
Gunn had served as chair of Parson's Department of Fashion Design since 2000. Prior to that, he had served as the department's associate dean since 1989. But it was in 2004 when Gunn got his big break on Bravo's Project Runway, where he serves as a mentor to the reality series' fashion-design contestants.
"While we knew of and had great respect for Tim through his work at Parsons, we like many Americans got to know him even better through Bravo's Project Runway," said McComb.
Liz Claiborne wasn't the only one to take notice of Gunn. Last month, Bravo announced that it's giving Gunn his own series, Tim Gunn's Guide to Style, which is based on his forthcoming book, "Tim Gunn: A Guide to Quality, Taste & Style."
"Tim knows we fully support his Bravo projects, including his own upcoming series," said McComb. "In fact, it is his involvement in these initiatives and the design world at large that will help keep Tim vital in this new role."
Gunn will assume his role as chief creative officer for Liz Claiborne on March 5, 2007. Bravo has yet to formally announce when Project Runway, the network's top rated show, will return for its fourth season, but Gunn's new job "will not prevent him from participating in" it, according to a report in Thursday's The New York Post.