I have always wanted to know what Tim would like to see more of in the edited episodes. His answer was a surprise: "More of the judges' deliberations. If I were a viewer", Tim said, "I'd be much more interested in what the judges were saying - and they say a lot – than I am in hearing the designers critique themselves. In my view there's far too much of that. It's a competition. What are they going to say that's supportive of each other? They're just going to slam each other down. And that's what every other show does. We don't need to do that."
(This is the point in the interview where I really wanted to hug Tim, since I spent a great deal of my reactions posts last season ranting about the excessive amount of time spent on the designers' FEEEEELINGS about their designs and especially about each other. But I didn't.)
Tim added that he'd like to see the show "really explain the process of what the designers are doing. We see them sewing, we see them making patterns, we see them engaged in this process...we watch it but we don't really hear about it." I smiled and agreed, because the creativity is part of what makes the show compelling. He also understood that editing the hours and hours of tape to tell a story is a daunting process, and doesn't know they manage to do it.
I asked about Season 9 auditions and if Tim would be a part of them. Tim looked a bit distressed at this question; I realized I'd inadvertently brought up a difficult subject. I offered "no comment" as a perfectly fine answer, which Tim agreed was the best answer at this point. Apparently there are some issues surrounding this, so we let the subject lie and moved on.
Tim has been Chief Creative Officer for Liz Claiborne for over three years, and I wanted to know what had been his biggest surprise in that position. "Having spent the last 29 years in academia, and the last 24 of those 29 at a design school, where it's an academic bubble so to speak, I had certain expectations that the real world would travel at the speed of light. It doesn't. It can be just as sluggish as academia. That's been my real surprise."
His favorite part of the job? "These events and the great team that I work with."
Laura had asked me to ask Tim if he had seen the BPR April Fools' postings announcing him as the new Editor of Vogue and Project Runway Masters. "Of course I did! I laughed uproariously!" He really loved Project Runway Masters post, so I asked if he thought something like that really could happen.
"Let me put it this way", he replied. "If I were a high end designer, I would pay the producers a hundred thousand dollars NOT to put me on the show. It's an open door to potential embarrassment if not humiliation, and why would I do that to myself?" There is also the nearly impossible task of trying coordinate the calendars of such busy designers to have them all available at the same time.
At this point we were just about out of time, so I expressed my admiration for how much Tim accomplishes, and said I didn't know how he does it all. "I'm usually a hair shy of a psychotic breakdown!", he laughed.
After thanking Tim and Leah profusely for this wonderful opportunity, I headed out to cover the event itself. While I'd been speaking with Tim, people were lining up outside the store to receive their autographed book and picture with him.
Unlike the events in other cities, the Park Meadows venue had considerably less space available. So instead of hosting a fashion show, they were trying a new format for the event: after Tim and Leah introduced themselves, an informal fashion show took place on the platform outside the store while Tim signed books and posed for pictures inside. The models moved between the platform and the store, engaging the crowd as they waited and letting the folks see their ensembles up close and personal.
While I was waiting my turn for my picture with Tim, I had the chance to talk to a number of the store personnel and models. Lucky Brand District Manager Chris Gorman had flown in from San Francisco for the event, since this was the only Tim Gunn appearance scheduled for his district. He seemed quite pleased with the turnout.
Most of the models are booked locally, but there are several who are traveling with the tour. Maxine Allen (pictured above) is based in Chicago, and said that Leah is great at finding good people and making the events run smoothly.
Leah also apparently knows how to operate every digital camera and cell phone camera in existence, since in addition to the professional photographer, she took a quick digital picture using each person's phone or camera.
I had a fantastic time at the event, and my exuberant thanks to BPR, Leah Salak, and Tim Gunn for making it a wonderful, memorable day.