Tim Gunn Talks ‘Project Runway,’ Kim Kardashian and More!

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Project Runway fans, are you ready for a new season? Well, Celebuzz is, and we got the chance to chat with fashion world icon and Project Runway mentor Tim Gunn about the upcoming 9th season of the show, premiering on July 28. In our interview, Tim shared some thoughts on summer fashion do’s and don’ts and also discussed his work with the Tide campaign, his role in The Smurfs movie, and more!

Kim Kardashian appears as a guest judge on Project Runway this season, but in the past Tim has been very critical of the Kardashian Klan, calling their style “largely vulgar”! Has he changed his tune after working with Kim? And which celeb does he think gets summer fashion right? Check out the full interview for all of the candid details!

Let’s talk about summer style. Do you have any tips or tricks for dressing your best over the next month or so to finish the season?

Dress up! There is such a pervasive tendency to wear short shorts and a tank top. It’s very on trend to be wearing maxi dresses but you have to dress them down, with a pair of basic sandals. But nice, beautiful flowery prints and wonderful cotton fabrics, they are easy, they are breezy and you can go anywhere in a style like that. But it doesn’t just have to be a maxi dress. My message is simply dress up.

Are there any past summer trends that are “out” this year, or some things to stay away from?

I don’t even want to say this has been a trend, it’s just been everywhere, but simply showing too much skin, specifically a bare midriff. I mean it’s fine if you are in a two piece bathing suit but if you’re in city streets, forget it. It’s simply not attractive, it’s not something people want to see or should see. Leave a little to the imagination.

Are there any celebrities who you think get summer style right?

I’m always citing Angelina Jolie, she knows how to navigate the real world with style. The photos we always see of celebrities are red carpet shots, and for me that’s not the real world. How do you look day in and day out? She’s one I always talk about.

Which young celebs do you think we should be on the look out for? Any rising fashion icons?

Hailee Steinfeld. She knows how to dress age appropriately, and be sophisticated without dressing older than she is. She has a youthfulness that has a sophistication. I’ve been very impressed with how she presents herself. Usually these younger celebrities are either dressing entirely too old or too easy and inappropriate. There is something about her sense of style that is so correct for her age and who she is. Frankly, I’m impressed with it.

Project Runway’s ninth season premieres on July 28. Is there anything different we can expect this season?

I’m calling season nine the first season, because it is a season of firsts. There are so many things that happen that are completely unprecedented that have never happened on the show before. People say to me, ‘Aren’t you tired of it, isn’t it like Groundhog Day, you just go through the same thing over and over again?’ And I say no! It has been a really terrific season with very interesting designers, and an interesting dynamic among them. This is also the first season we have brought on 20 designers, so everyone arrived with an excitement and enthusiasm, but also terror because they knew that 4 of them would be going home right away. It was more a matter of ‘Am I on this show?’ than the cockiness that people come in with saying, ‘I’m on this show and I’m going to win it.’ Sending four people home at the very beginning was sobering for everybody. I’m eager to see how people respond to this season.

Do you think contestants approach the show differently having seen previous seasons and knowing what you like, and what the other judges like?

I do. But I beat them back. They have to be true to who they are. They can not anticipate what the judges will think, and that is simply the facts. I’ve prided myself on being able to anticipate what the judges are going to say, and I share it with the contestants. Nina is going to say this, or Michael is going to say that, Heidi will have this point of view about your look. I learned in season eight, I don’t even have a clue! If I said you’re going home, you’re probably going to win the challenge. It’s been very much the same this season. I spill out my truth telling to them, but I also say, I don’t have to stand up and support this look on the runway, you do. You have to have every confidence in the decisions that you make, and you need to be able to defend them. So yes, on the one hand, the designers arrive with a certain set of beliefs, but I quickly dispel them, because the beliefs are about how to please the judges, and that is not what this is about. 

We know that Kim Kardashian is a guest judge on Project Runway this season. You’ve been critical of her style in the past. Did working with her change your opinion?

I don’t want to say anything disrespectful. Kim was an excellent judge. One could say that she dresses beautiful for her body type and who she is. I would never hold her up as a fashion icon, personally. It’s not a style I think most people would want to emulate, but she is who she is and I think there are those who would say she is definitely a fashion icon. It’s just not my cup of tea, let’s put it that way.

You’re also appearing in The Smurfs movie. Can you tell us about your involvement in that?

Well it comes out July 29, and I am very excited about it. I’m not a smurf, I’m a real person. It was nine long days of pure joy. I loved every second of it. We had a wonderful director, a wonderful executive producer, and a great crew. I worked with Neil Patrick Harris, Sofia Vergara, Hank Azaria. Who wouldn’t have a blast? It was surreal.

You have a daytime show in the works currently called, The Revolution. Could you tell us a little bit about that?

Well I think the show is going to create somewhat of a revolution, it is about inspiration, education and changing lives. I’m deeply honored to be a part of it. I never intended to have a regular, ongoing role in the show, it just evolved. I was originally brought on to be an intermittent guest every few months, and that’s not how it turned out. Nobody is more surprised about it than I am. Quite frankly, I have been talking to the producers about the work I have done with Tide, and Proctor & Gamble, and I want to have a whole week of education about how to clean your clothes, which effects every single person in this nation. There is a true science to it. I feel that people just dump detergent in and assume the clothes will be clean. It’s really not the case. It’s like making a cake, you need to measure, you need to know about the textiles you’re washing. It’s so important to me. The biggest crime against fashion isn’t bad clothes, it’s bad clothing maintenance, and it drives me crazy, especially in these trying economic times. Take care of what you have!

What is the main premise of the show? It sounds like something of an all-around Extreme Makeover.

In a way, yes. That’s an interesting way of putting it. We are trying to help people navigate their own world and lives with more knowledge and awareness, with a higher expectation of what they should be getting out of life. We are trying to do something that nobody has ever done before. We’re covering everything from clothing to weight loss, health, homes, family and children, relationships. It’s about everything that effects our lives. There isn’t a prescription or a formula, it’s just one long ongoing dialogue and we are just seeing where it takes us.

You do a lot of work with Tide. Do you have any upcoming projects or campaigns to tell us about?

We had a wonderful blogger competition that was really great. I got to meet all of the winners, we had a wonderful time. Being out in the real world with real people is the most satisfying thing in the world to me. I live in New York, which is sort of a bubble, it’s not really the real world, which I say to my colleagues all the time. Get out there and talk to people who are really a part of the real world! And I’ve learned a huge amount by being a part of the Tide campaign. I take better care of my own wardrobe because of the work I do with Tide, it has had a profound effect on me.