Making It Work (Part Two)


By Bill Keith

Yesterday we posted Out features editor Bill Keith's interview with Tim Gunn, which ran in the September issue of the magazine. Today we bring you exclusive outtakes from Keith's chat with Gunn in which the Project Runway mentor and host of the upcoming Tim Gunn's Guide to Style, which premieres September 6 on Bravo, discusses being a father figure to the show's contestants and being out at work.

Bill Keith: Do you feel protective? I mean, with the judges?
Tim Gunn: Yes. I want to shout at the judges, 'Leave my kids alone' and 'Michael Kors, you design that dress in two days!' I get very paternal.

But you can't really step in, I guess.
TG: No.

You haven't had any moments out of line, like, Michael Kors is trying to come up with something particularly catty to say and you can't say anything?
TG: I can't say anything. I want to, believe me. And there are times when my heart is pounding so hard, and I'm sweating profusely. I mean it's hot in the room anyway, but it's because I'm so hot and bothered by what's being said. I'm also careful to say to the designers, 'Look, it's your decision. This is how I'm responding to this work, but in the end it's your decision what you do.' And then if, for instance, the dress is shortened, and the judges are critical about it, then I'm thinking, 'Oh, God, I should have never opened my mouth about shortening the skirt. Or I disagree with them [and think] 'You should have seen it when it was floor length. It was really dowdy and ugly. And looked like it was going to a nursing home and not to a red carpet.' Because they don't know. They only know what they see. The only thing about the judges I do object to, and it happens infrequently, and it only happens with the guest designers, is when they sit there and tell you what they would have done. But you didn't do it. Or they say, 'Well, I wouldn't have had blue fabric; I would have used red.' I don't believe in talking to the designers about things they can't change. We've returned from shopping; they have blue fabric; make it work.

Have you largely lived as an out man professionally?
TG: Yes, but I don't talk about it. If the topic comes up, I'm quick and comfortable to say yeah. There's some people in our group who are always saying 'Hey, Mary' or 'Hey, sister.' You know, you don't need to do all that. Frankly, that level of stuff makes me squirm and makes me uncomfortable. And it's just, like, maybe that's who you are, but I don't want to be there.

That performative?
TG: Yeah, yeah. Just being who you are. I can't take this away nor would I want to because it informs who I am.