Tim Gunn Makes it Work in NYC


Tim Gunn is a co-host and mentor for the fashion-design reality show, Project Runway, currently in its twelfth season on Lifetime. When he’s not helping contestants solve fashion dilemmas, he works as the Fashion Dean at Fifth & Pacific Companies Inc. (formerly Liz Claiborne), where he is responsible for attracting, retaining and developing the creative talent within the portfolio of brands. A lifelong educator, Gunn also served as a member of the administration and faculty at Parsons School of Design for 24 years. He is actively involved with several charitable organizations including the National Domestic Violence Hotline, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, Hetrick-Martin Institute, Bailey House and the Human Rights Campaign.

5:30 AM: Good morning! This is my usual wake-up time. In the summer it’s easy, because the sun is rising. It’s a bit more difficult in the winter because it’s pitch black outside. I throw water on my face, dutifully make the bed, shave, brush my teeth and shower. Hair and skin products follow, and then it’s wardrobe decisions. I always dress for the most meaningful appointment of the day, which invariably, means a suit. Today, that’s the summer interns’ lunch at Fifth and Pacific Inc. I don’t want to dress somberly. Color and pattern mixing are certainly in order. I lay out today’s wardrobe on my bed and head to the kitchen to make a Nespresso latte (I have the “U” machine). One cup is never sufficient. It’s usually two… and sometimes three. I open email and check the headlines in The New York Times. No breakfast food. No exercise regimen (other than getting out of bed).

8:00 AM: I take a four-block walk to the subway and wait for the #2 or #3 express train to 34th Street. I have a meeting with three executives at Bentex Group.

8:45 AM: I arrive at Bentex Group’s offices on West 33rd Street. I’m early, which I love to be. I’d much rather wait than have anyone wait for me. Bentex and I are developing a line of home products, primarily bed and bath, and I’m extremely excited about the direction of the designs and the breadth of their scope. Dawn, Joe, and Susan at Bentex are among the smartest and most talented people with whom I’ve ever worked. They’ve made this venture, which is a first for me, a true joy. We’re prepping for Market Week, which is in a mere six weeks.

I love walking in the city. Although it can sometimes be visually assaulting, it’s usually very inspiring, and it’s never ever boring.

11:00 AM: I walk to my Fifth and Pacific office in Times Square. It’s extremely hot and humid and the sidewalks are packed. I reflect upon my earlier subway ride and feel relieved that I’m not in an underground tunnel. I love walking in the city. Although it can sometimes be visually assaulting, it’s usually very inspiring, and it’s never ever boring.

11:30 AM: I greet the summer interns—30 fresh-faced college students—and we line up for the buffet lunch. To be honest, I can’t eat at events where I play host because it’s so awkward to juggle eating with meeting and greeting. So, I just mingle.

1:00 PM: I’m back on the sidewalks, this time heading to Out Loud sound studios on West 54th Street. We have a three-hour recording session for multiple episodes of Sofia the First, a Disney Channel animated series in which I play Baileywick, the castle steward and watch-keeper over Princess Sophia (voiced by Ariel Winter of Modern Family). I love the show.


4:00 PM: I’m walking east to another recording studio, this time for pickups for Project Runway Season 12. These pickups happen infrequently and they never take more than ten minutes. They’re done to clarify a challenge, for example, or to provide options for how we get in and out of scenes. They never interfere with the show’s intractable integrity.

5:00 PM: I’m back at my Times Square office (I’ve walked a full circle since earlier in the day). In addition to finishing up some work with my colleague Marsha, I need a landline for a conversation with bloggers around the nation. This is all part of our promotional efforts for the show.

6:45 PM: I’m back on the subway heading home. I love living on the Upper West Side. Before moving to this neighborhood four years ago, I lived downtown for many years. People told me that I would hate the UWS because it’s quiet and feels quasi-suburban. Correct! That’s what I love about it! I pop into Gotham Wine for a nice red. Charlie, Dallas, Isaac and Jason always have great recommendations that are always under $15 and usually less than $10. Then I hit the Food Emporium to get inspired for tonight’s dinner (and my first food of the day, if you can believe it).

7:30 PM: I’m home. I put the groceries away, sort the mail and change into my pajamas and robe. I make a Manhattan (my favorite cocktail), turn on HGTV (I don’t even care what’s on; I’m always mesmerized). In spite of the heat, I decide that it’s time for a meatloaf. Mine is adapted from a Craig Claiborne recipe and it’s easy and delicious. First, you make the meatloaf, and then you flatten it into a half-inch thick rectangle, cover it with shredded cheese (I use cheddar) and roll it up. When you slice it, it looks as fabulous as it tastes. One of these will last for three or four meals.

8:30 PM: Although I have a lovely dining room table and an open kitchen with nice counter stools, I have dinner in the living room in front of the television. I do. Dessert is grapes, which fits in perfectly with my second glass of wine.

10:30 PM: Bedtime. I read for 30 minutes. Right now, I’m reading Christine Quinn’s captivating and inspiring memoir, With Patience and Fortitude (from the names of the stone lions on the steps of the New York Public Library). I’m crossing every appendage that I have in hopes that she’ll be the next Mayor of New York City. Chris Quinn knows how to “Make it work!” Goodnight everyone!