Tim Gunn talks about his new 'Tim Gunn's Guide to Style' reality show
By Christopher Rocchio, 08/29/2007
Tim Gunn promises his new Tim Gunn's Guide to Style reality series is different from all the other fashion makeover shows already on television.
"It's not an intervention; we don't have family or loved ones contacting us saying, 'Well you have to help my spouse or my sister or my friend.' These women have self-declared their need for help. And basically, they share being in a fashion rut," Gunn told reporters during a conference call last week.
"It's really an education about who they are, with whom they interact and how they want the world to perceive them. It's the semiology of dressing. It's all about the message that our clothes sends and how the world perceives that. So it's very individualized for each person."
Gunn will use a series of tools and pointers to assist in making the fashion transformations complete, and at the conclusion of each episode, he'll call on his friends from the fashion industry to put their finishing touches on the women and complete the makeovers.
"It is about, 'Who are you?' and 'What do you want to be?' and 'How far are you from that goal?' And then we come in with guidelines and some ground rules about how to achieve this," Gunn explained. "But we're not about turning you into somebody you're not. And I think the most satisfying thing, in a way, is that when we have the reveal at the end of the show and family and friends see this greatly enhanced person they say, 'But she still looks like so-and-so. She doesn't - you didn't change her and I thought you'd change her into somebody completely different.' No, we are not going to do that."
In addition to Gunn, Guide to Style's participants will also be assisted by show host Veronica Webb, a former model who will guide the women through their shopping excursions.
"I was so crossing every finger, every arm, every leg, every toe that Veronica would say yes. It felt like it was a marriage proposal," Gunn gushed about the Tim Gunn's Guide to Style host. "I have known of Veronica Webb. We'd never really met until we did this audition together and we just - we really did click. And she's as brainy as she is beautiful and I just thought, 'This is it. I've got to have her.'"
Webb, who also participated in the conference call, added she and Gunn "were meant to be together" and echoed his sentiment that they "just clicked" during her audition.
"Tim is exactly -- what you see is exactly what you get and he has the most even temper of anyone I have ever met in my life. He is always kind, he is always patient. He is always polite. He is always considerate and he is always genuine," she said. "First and foremost, Tim is an educator."
While Gunn said he believes "no one's well served by mean-spirited behavior," Webb was quick to add "tough love is not always polite."
"Educators have to support and tell the truth," said Gunn. "We're partners in this. We just play it as it happens and it's - I think the perception of good cop versus bad cop, I mean, sometimes, yeah, but we can switch those roles and sometimes we're both the good cop and sometimes we're both the bad cop."
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One of the reasons why the role of "bad cop" might not be as evident is because -- like Gunn said -- the participants on Tim Gunn's Guide to Style nominated themselves for the show.
"I think that was a really smart move for Tim to have made because, you know, it releases, you know, it releases us from any kind of tooth-pulling or struggling," said Webb. "And, in this case, we can remind them," added Gunn, "'Wait a minute, you contacted us. You're the one who volunteered for this. So you're in it now and we're going to make this work.'"
Gunn is well-known for the different catchphrases that he uses on Project Runway as the Bravo reality competition series' fashion guru, such as "Make it work" and "Carry on." He said Tim Gunn's Guide to Style will "certainly" have its own cast of catchphrases.
"It comes from my classroom," said Gunn, who taught for 23 years at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City before leaving the position in February to become Liz Claiborne Inc.'s chief creative officer. "It's 'We' -- meaning Veronica and I -- 'We can't want you to succeed more than you do.' It's true. We can't. I mean the hard work for this is really on their head, and we can guide and we can support but we can't do the work."
Webb added that hanging around with Gunn has ever given her a catchphrase.
"Mine is really, you know, 'You can wear anything you want to, you just have to find the way to wear it.," she said.
While a crossover show featuring Project Runway contestants designing clothing for those participating in Tim Gunn's Guide to Style sounded like a "fantastic idea" to Gunn, he found a problem with the premise.
"Our [Guide to Style] subjects would need to be creative collaborators with the [Project Runway] designers because our show is all about who are you, and then how do you then dress yourself as opposed to having a Project Runway designer say, 'Ah-ha, I see you in this silhouette and with these proportions and this color,'" he explained. "I mean, it could work as part of the show but we would want our subjects to be creative collaborators."
"I'm just extremely grateful that people respond well to who I am, because that is who I am," he explained. "And it means I don't have to be playing a role when I'm out on the streets. I'm just what I am. And it's - I don't know that there's anything that's been more rewarding or satisfying, personally. I mean it's just - it's incredible."