The Telefile
Tim Gunn Confirms His Eternal Awesomeness Tomorrow night we'll be blessed with yet another forum in which to enjoy the darlingness of Tim Gunn, consummate gentleman, sartorial sage and all-around mensch. What I mean is that Tim Gunn's Guide to Style returns for another season, bravely ridding the world of schlumpy dressers and hot messes one woman at a time, with the aid of a high-tech machine called the Opti Tex (think a real life version of the Glaminator 11.0. This season, stylist and boutique-owner Gretta Monahan takes over for Veronica Webb as Tim's partner in crime, and the two let us nosy journalist types bombard them with all manner of questions about the upcoming season and the celebs and fashions they wish would take a long walk off a short pier. Here are the highlights:

On the line between constructive criticism and plain old meanness:

Tim Gunn: Gretta and I are very sensitive to people's sensitivities, if that makes any sense. And it's only at a point of perhaps frustration, sometimes exasperation when we feel a blunt instrument is really necessary. We need to wake somebody up.

Gretta Monahan: If you do this in the real world and you're doing this with complete integrity, honesty is the best policy. We've maybe shocked some people with honesty but I've never had anyone leave us and say they felt that we mistreated them or they were mean -- that we were mean, which I'm really proud of.

On Sarah Palin's style:

GM: I think she has a look that works for the role she's in and I get it. She's a beautiful, beautiful woman. I've kind of been one of those people that would love to pull the glasses off and see the hair down. I just can't help it. You know, I own salons and boutiques and I would love to see her also just have a little bit of variation in her look. But undoubtedly, you know, she's a very pretty woman and I think what people respond to is there is -- it's very nice to see someone who is very feminine, you know.

There's a femininity to her that seems to be very much in line with her confidence. But I can't lie. I always like to tweak everything. I'd like to see a little more fashion and style in there and maybe a little more attention spent on proportion fit and silhouette, if I had to tweak, you know. After all, it is my job. So that's -- for me, that's how I feel about her look overall.

TG: All I can say is we should all brace ourselves for a Broadway revival of Annie Get Your Gun.

On celebs with the best style:

TG: I'm fond of saying that the person who I believe gets it right with sophistication and polish, and an individual who is occasion appropriate is Angelina Jolie. I say don't look at red carpet looks because it's not the real world. Look at how people pick up the kids on -- at daycare or go shopping. It's much more of a gauge of someone's real style and how they navigate the real world. And I applaud her style. Someone else who may be a little over the top in the way on the red carpet but who navigates her real life with style and panache is Sarah Jessica Parker.

On working with Gretta vs. Veronica:

TG: Gretta and Veronica are two completely different people and I must say about Gretta that Gretta is -- Gretta, forgive me if this in any way puts you off. But Gretta's a real woman. Gretta's petite. Gretta knows the kinds of challenges that she faces when shopping and when she's confronted with different silhouettes and when she looks at herself from the viewpoint of proportion of fit. Gretta can empathize and Veronica Webb is a supermodel and she could break all the rules and still look absolutely fabulous.

For our subjects, the women with whom we work, Gretta has her feet planted firmly in the ground and there's a girlfriend element to Gretta that -- and with Veronica it was - she was on a pedestal. It was more difficult.

On what's different this season:

TG: The fashion challenges that are presented to Gretta and me are a little more subtle, a little more nuanced. They're not quite the blunt instruments that you saw on Season 1 and we have women who have sensational figures, and are beautiful but have issues with the clothes that they've been buying, clothing maintenance, grooming.

So many women think, "Oh if I had a figure like that, if I looked like her all my fashion foibles would be put to an end." But in fact, that isn't true.

GM: What you end up seeing, why the show is so useful and why it delves deeper in a more complex fashion actually in a good way is that you can easily see the cures to those situations and the fact that style is about the devil in the details there.

And it's not just the big sweeping makeovers where it's, you know, let's shock everybody with these short haircuts and crazy color. And it isn't it about that. It's very accessible.

On the sci fi-like OptiTex machine:

TG: OptiTex is actually a software program for fashion designers and I was introduced to it by the OptiTex founder, Yoram Burg, when I was at Parsons and I put it in as the curriculum. And when we had Guide to Style, I thought, "Let's bring some new dimension of helping women really look at themselves objectively. And what better way than OptiTex?" And especially this season when they're looking at themselves life-size.

GM: It's singlehandedly the biggest transformation in [the participants'] ability to look at themselves, scrutinize, have that critical eye for themselves and also open up their boundaries of their style that they've been hanging onto for too long.

On the best fashions on TV now:

TG: Just in terms of a show that resonates style and it's not style today, it's retro style -- I mean, I'm crazy about Mad Men... It's just so brilliantly presented. I'm a huge fan.

GM: That was the exact number one in my mind, Tim, and we didn't even talk about this beforehand. I'm just glued. I just -- I love it. It's incredible. I think that they really have it down. It's just -- it's fun to watch and it is -- the bonus is, you know, the dress and the styling is incredible.

TG: I mean, the one exception may be -- I'd like to get Charlie Sheen [in Two and a Half Men] out of all those shorts.

On Bravo's other fashion-centric show, The Rachel Zoe Project:

TG: Well I'll just say bluntly about me, I'm hooked. I can't get enough of it.

GM: Oh, I think she's amazing. I've long been a fan of Rachel Zoe. I think, you know, what she's done, what we've seen her do in Hollywood and also -- you know, I'm a business owner too -- what she's done with her business and her brand, and just everything.

I just think this is incredible that she's allowing us into that world. And I'm with you, Tim, I'm like running home to watch. I love it.

On offering advice to a friend who's a fashion trainwreck:

TG: Well I think key to all this is whether that individual really wants to change. I mean, they may be perfectly happy with their look and it goes back to something we were saying earlier about owning responsibility for how you're presenting yourself to the world. It is very delicate. It might be interesting to actually go -- have that person accompany you while you're shopping and see what he or she resonates with or doesn't.

And if they ask you what do you think, then it's an opportunity to actually give them an honest response.

GM: In any situation in my past, even where I've been asked to do makeovers, if you will, in an ambush style, it's a really tough thing. That's really not what works long term. If it's a close friend, you know, you might say, you know, "hey let's go shopping" as Tim said or, you know, "do you ever like desire a change? Do you ever think about that?" Talk about what's great about their physicality because maybe they are, in fact, wearing clothes three sizes too big because they had a baby a year ago and under that they have an amazing figure. We see that all the time but they just don't see it yet. So I always -- for me it's about positive reinforcement. It's about encouraging and it's about, you know, really unveiling the positive side.

I think it's very old-fashioned and really doesn't work, and totally just TV sensationalism to rip someone down to build them up.

TG: I'll be blunt, I work with people who are fashion challenged. And I wouldn't dream of saying to them "do you know that -- how unattractive it is for you to be walking around with a bare midriff?" It's just the way they are. If they want to open the door about it and -- then I'll step in. But otherwise, I just have too much respect for people to think that I should be asserting my criteria onto them. It's like no, that's who they -- if that's who they are, fine.

Tim Gunn's Guide to Style premieres Thursday, October 2 at 11 PM on Bravo.




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