If one man has benefited most from the reigning fashion reality show, Project Runway, it's Tim Gunn. Plucked from obscurity as an administrator and faculty member at Parsons, Gunn's been co-hosting the show (which is now on Lifetime, if your remote even recognizes that channel) for eight seasons. The ninth season premiers this week, so we caught up with him in between his cameo in the new Smurfs movie and planning for his own ABC series later this year to discuss one contemptuous issue. Apparently, 25 percent of all Runway viewers are men. But should more men even bother watching a show where a bunch of over-the-top contestants create - spoiler alert! - nothing but women's clothes? No suits to covet here. Still, that didn't stop Gunn from trying to convince us to tune-in. Excerpts:
The first few seasons, men would apologetically tell me their girlfriends made them watch the show.
I wouldn't try to convince them. I'd just say, "My condolences."
I knew we had reached a turning point. When we were taping season six in Los Angeles, I lived right near where we were shooting. And my walk took me past a construction site. One morning, this guy yells, "Tim Gunn! You're killing me with that show."
Heidi Klum has to be a part of that.
Conan O'Brien once told me that what he loves about the show is that it's given him a vocabulary to talk about clothes in a way he wasn't able to before watching.PREVIEW: The Best New Shows Coming Out This Fall >>
We use a lot of terms in the workroom. And [this season], in the one-on-one interviews, the cast will explain what these words mean. What's a dart? Or a hem? Or what's a peplum? A live glossary is the perfect of way of putting it.
Does a man need to know what a peplum is? Probably not.
These people are practicing their craft - there's a reverence for that.
It's not unlike being in your garage. We're using tools to make this stuff. It makes it very relatable. You see them with scissors. And drafting tools. And needles can puncture your finger - which happens to two people on this season.
Men's wear is all about tailoring. We usually don't have time for that.
Ever year at the Emmy's - we've never won - Jon Stewart comes up to me and says, "You've been robbed."
I've never mentioned this, but when I was at Parsons teaching, the other design disciplines, they don't like fashion design. They see it as very nineteenth-century. They found it really old-fashioned. The machinery aspect: You smell oil, you hear the machines, you have bobbins going up and down. It's kind of like building automative parts. I dunno. With fashion, you really need to understand the aspects of construction. Not just design on an iPad.
Is Michael Kors sewing? Of course not. But he definitely knows how to.
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