We got a chance to chat with the much beloved "Project Runway" mentor on his new role, plans for a third book and why he doesn't regret calling out Anna Wintour.
StyleList: Tell us about your new partnership with Weight Watchers.
Tim Gunn: It's all about helping people through this very challenging and frequently daunting transition from a larger size to smaller size and helping them get their fashion right. I'm an adviser and counselor to these individuals and their cheerleader and I love it.
StyleList: You don't look like you've had any weight issues yourself. What is it about Weight Watchers that speaks to you?
T.G.: It's sincere empathy and it's about esteem. I'm all for people feeling as confident as they can and I know fashion is so frequently at the core of that confidence. When we look good, we feel better and we navigate the world with more panache. It's very inspiring.
StyleList: You've already put out two books. Are you working on a third?
T.G.: Yes. I'm very excited about this new book. It's an etymological guide to what's in your closet. I take basic items and track their lineage all the way back to Egypt, where it all began. It's a way of presenting fashion history in a way that I hope is accessible to people and that they find engaging. I want people to know that when they take that wrap dress out of the closet, that there's a history. It didn't just appear on the scene, it goes back centuries and centuries and has an interesting timeline.
StyleList: Where have you been doing your research?
T.G.: The New York Public Library! I'm absolutely madly in love with the art and design section of it and I'm there all the time. The book requires a tremendous amount of investigation and research and it's been a huge learning curve for me and completely riveting and fascinating.
StyleList: Do fans ever stop and talk to you while you're in the library?
T.G.: Occasionally, but people are extremely nice and lovely.
StyleList: In your second book, "Gunn's Golden Rules," you called out some characters in the fashion industry, including Anna Wintour. Do you regret that at all?
T.G.: Well, I have to say the Anna Wintour story, which has received too much press in my view, that story would not be in the book if Anna had not been such a relentless bully and if she had accepted responsibility for her actions, which she did not. Otherwise, the story has no purpose. "Gunns's Golden Rules" was meant to be a kind of "Modern Manners" for the digital age and in it, I have a lot of messages, and one of them is to accept responsibility for your actions, no matter what they are. And the fact that she refused to and, in fact, denied the whole story: Really? I wasn't the only witness to this. I found it baffling. I don't care that you were carried down five flights of stairs. I wasn't going after her character. I was merely journalistically reporting what I saw. And I feel that about all the stories in the book. In no way are any of the stories meant to go after anyone's character as much as to describe what happened. It's just the facts, ma'am, frankly.
StyleList: Late last year, you told Conan O'Brien that you hated jeggings and then he taped a hilarious episode wearing them. Are there any other trends you are hating now?
T.G.: On the topic of the jeggings, anything that is too snug, too formfitting, too much like a sausage casing, is not going to be flattering on most people, especially if they are out of puberty. So we all have to be mindful of that. When anyone asks me, "Should I wear this?" I find that, by definition, the fact that they've asked, answers it. No! Chances are you shouldn't be wearing it.
StyleList: Awards season has begun. Does that excite you?
T.G.: I love the red carpet. I get very excited by awards season. I'm always interested in what people are wearing and, more particularly, why. And I have to say, I'm much more interested in the more seasoned celebrities than the young kids, who seem to look good in anything. I'm more interested in the Helen Mirrens and the Cate Blanchetts, people who have a history of style.