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Tim Gunn talks Project Runway

Tim Gunn always makes it work

SheKnows: Where did the phrase, “Make it work,” evolve from — the classroom?

Tim Gunn: Oh absolutely. It came from my classrooms, and in fact, I even remember the first time I used it. This was the senior year class and the course I was teaching was Concept Development, and it works in tandem with a course in which the students actually execute their collection. I had a student who — it was March — she was going to throw the entire collection away, literally and metaphorically, and start a new one. I said, “We are presenting these collections in four weeks. You’re looking at five months of work, and you’re saying you’re going to get rid of it and start all over again?” I said, “You’re not.” I said, “You’re going to look at the situation at hand, offer up a diagnosis for what’s wrong, a prescription, and then a prescription for how to make it work. You’ve got to make this work. You’re not going to start all over again. Period.” This was many years ago this happened. I find that with students, that they then end up having this incredible resource within themselves for how to problem solve as they move forward as opposed to just starting all over again. And okay it works, but do you know why? So it’s a very useful lesson. On Project Runway, it’s nothing if not “make it work.” Because as I’m always saying to the designers, once we leave, that’s it. Whatever you have is what you have, and you’re not going shopping again. You’re not retooling this. It’s “make it work” time.

SheKnows: Do you stay in touch with previous contestants?

Tim Gunn: I do. I mean, as much as they want to keep in touch with me. I’m very careful not to force myself upon anyone, but the designers do get back in touch with me either about professional advice or they just want to have a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, and I’m thrilled to see them.

SheKnows: Is there a favorite season of Project Runway for you? Any stand above the rest?

Tim Gunn: The reason it’s difficult for me to answer is because I look at each season the way that I look at each semester of students I’ve had. I grow very attached to them, and there are different emotions that I associate with each season just as I do with these semesters of students. I will say, though, I loved season three and the opportunity of going to Paris. I thought that was wonderful for everyone, though Vincent Libretti in that season was driving everyone crazy. But each season has a different resonance and different DNA according to the designers who are on the show. It’s interesting to have time to reflect upon the seasons and go back and look at them again because I do have the DVDs. I don’t want you to think I’m totally obsessed and sitting in my apartment all day and all night watching reruns of Project Runway, but I do enjoy going back and reliving it. What constantly blows me away, though, is the level and quality of the work that they execute, especially after we are at season three and move forward with our success of seasons.

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