Wednesday, April 06, 2011


Yesterday, my sweet friend Kate bequeathed me with a ticket to hear Tim Gunn speak at Vanderbilt. Admittedly, I am late to the Project Runway bandwagon, but Tim is my favorite thing about the show. So I was very happy to get to go hear him and get some nuggets of wisdom.

I expected his lecture to be about the fashion industry, and how to advance your career within. While he definitely touched on that subject, the majority of his speech was about his career in education. He was in higher education for 29 years before going to Liz Claiborne, as an administrator and faculty member. He spoke for about an hour, then did a Q&A for another thirty minutes.

Some of my favorite parts:
*He was always sent in to “fix” things – departments, relationships, curriculums, etc. He said rather than being Mr. Fix-it, he called himself a pooper-scooper. Ha!
*In all his years in the fashion industry, Christian Soriano was the first fashion prodigy he ever came across.
*His best advice: BE NICE. And always take the high road (“until you’re so high you get a nose bleed. We all have our limits. Sometimes you just need to have a ‘Listen, sister!’ moment.”)
*His “favorite” designer is Diane von Furstenberg, partly for her aesthetic but also because of her community/civic leadership and advocacy
*One of the crowning jewels of Parsons (school where he was on staff for 29 years) was the Design Critic Program… and he did away with it. He is big on taking risks. Getting rid of the senior-year program for which the school was most known was not a popular move, but the students excelled because of it, and so did the school.
*He hated hearing “that’s the way it’s always been done!” when he questioned something.

If you ever get the opportunity to hear him speak, I highly recommend it! He is pretty brilliant. I wish he would run for President. Gunn 2012: Make it Work!

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