“Project Runway” host Tim Gunn discussed his career as an educator and television personality at an event at Edwards Hall on Sunday night.
The show, titled “An Evening With Tim Gunn,” was hosted by the Student Entertainment Committee’s VIP subcommittee. The show sold over 700 tickets, which put the venue nearly at capacity.
During his monologue and subsequent Q-and-A, Gunn discussed topics ranging from personal anecdotes about the fashion industry to his 25-year career as an educator at New York’s Parsons The New School for Design.
In addition to his role as an instructor, Gunn was associate dean for 12 years before being named chair of the fashion design program in 2000, a position he held until 2007.
During his tenure as fashion design chair, Gunn oversaw a major overhaul to the program, as it had several issues and relied on outdated methodology.
“The curriculum had not changed in 50 years, and this is in an industry where there’s nothing but change,” he said. “They were still hand-sewing the inside seams of garments”
“The real issue was the pedagogy and the culture in the department, because that’s not a quick fix at all.”
Gunn recalled that there was dissent from alumni following his modernization of the department, which included implementing computer technology
“More than 70 percent of the designers on 7th Avenue at that time were Parsons educated, and how dare I do this to them and their alma mater and their legacy?” he said. “After it was all done and wonderful things were happening, there were full congratulations”
Gunn also revealed that his ”make it work” catchphrase formed during his time at Parsons.
“I never intended for it to become any sort of catchphrase,” he said. “I’ve been saying it for years and years, and it was formed in one of my classrooms.”
Gunn said that the phrase was created after meeting with a student who intended to discard a collection intended for her capstone at a critical moment and with limited time remaining. He said he dissuaded her from doing so, and encouraged her to find a way to work with what she had.
“When you make it work, you have so many more resources when you haven’t gone well the next time,” he said. “It happens in life all the time.”
In addition to his education career, Gunn discussed his personal philosophy to style.
“The clothes we wear sends a message about how the world perceives, and for me that’s something very profound,” he said. “I don’t care how anyone is dressed, as long as they accept responsibility for how they present themselves.”
During the Q-and-A session, Gunn fielded questions about the production of “Project Runway,” and his thoughts on fashion education.
One of the questions he responded to was from a textile merchandising major, who asked about the education she received at URI in contrast to programs at other schools.
“Makes no difference, it’s all about where you’ll be a successful student,” he said.
”The school’s reputation means nothing if the school’s not good for you. It’s all about where will you feel challenged, where will you will feel that you have a safe environment in which to take risks.”
During the event, Gunn announced that he would soon be releasing a book about his career as an educator at Parsons. Titled “The Natty Professor,” the book is set for release by Gallery Books in March 2015.
The next scheduled SEC event will be a concert by Chance the Rapper on Oct. 19. On Wednesday, the SEC announced that comedian Kevin Hart would perform at the Ryan Center on Oct. 26. Tickets to the Kevin Hart show are only available to URI students, faculty and alumni.