Tim Gunn is heading over to the Manhattan Mall’s JCPenney tonight at 6 p.m. to unveil Liz Claiborne’s fall 2010 collection in a free public fashion show. Afterward, he’ll stick around to field style questions from audience members and sign copies of his new book, Gunn’s Golden Rules: Life’s Little Lessons for Making It Work. While much fuss has been made over Gunn’s stories about Anna Wintour being carried down five flights of stairs, and André Leon Talley being fed bites of food like a baby bird, there’s plenty of other insightful takeaways to be relished in the Project Runway guru’s book.
1. Despite his recent trash-talking spree, Tim Gunn is no friend of snark.
“The fact is, I am constitutionally incapable of being snarky. I’m not throwing out barbs and making fun of people. I believe in giving a dimension of seriousness to the whole enterprise of creating and talking about clothes, even to red carpet reportage, and I’m very proud of that.”
2. Little Gunn was a biter.
“I thought I was going to be a concert pianist (yes, I was every kind of nerd), so I would not hit for fear of breaking a hand. That meant I was a biter and a hair puller. If you got into a tangle with me, that’s what would happen. You’d get bitten, and you’d have your hair pulled. I wouldn’t even know what I was biting. I would just be in a frenzy, biting anything I could get a hold of.”
3. Diane von Furstenberg loves hot dogs. She even dragged Gunn through the streets of New York looking for one.
“We sashayed down the sidewalk, Diane’s arm wrapped around mine. I held the diner door for Diane to enter, and she burst in as if she expected silver trays filled with every kind of hot dog and condiment to greet her. Something told me she had never been in a place like this before … After sighing heavily she called out to the rather cavernous space, ‘I need a hot dog! Someone, anyone, please bring me a hot dog!’”
4. Gunn sent Anna Wintour an all-white flower arrangement and a card apologizing for the whole Stairsgate debacle, but she never responded.
5. Isaac Mizrahi is very particular about the color of his security guards’ uniforms.
“One time, Isaac threw a fit about a security guard from the second-floor showroom at Liz Claiborne Inc.’s Times Square offices. Why, you may ask? Was he stealing? Harassing guests? Showing up late? No, he was wearing brown.”
6. Gunn describes the relationship between Martha Stewart and her daughter Alexis as “Grey Gardens-y,” and gave this anecdote about shooting a Macy’s commercial with them.
“Martha gestured to the piles of linens and towels from her new collection and said, ‘Alexis, any of this you want for your apartment, please take it. I want to give you a housewarming present.’ It seemed like a touching and generous gesture. ‘I wouldn’t touch a single solitary item of this crap!’ Alexis said, glowering.”
7. He wouldn’t make a very good waiter.
“If I were a waiter and someone talked rudely to me, I know I would be seriously tempted. I would never intentionally put someone’s life at risk, but half a dozen laxative tablets dissolved in a cup of coffee would be very sweet payback, indeed.”
8. Michael Kors loves to read bad Womens’ Wear Daily reviews out loud, just not his own.
9. Gunn is a regifter. One time, he accidentally gave a colleague a silver Tiffany pen that had been engraved with his name.
10. He takes the subway.
“Generally speaking, I am all for doing things cheaply whenever possible. For example, I prefer not to take taxis or limos. For some reason, people don’t believe that I take public transportation. They assume that I have a car service, or maybe even a sedan chair carried by nubile models.”
11. He wears jeans and T-shirts! But only to the grocery store.
12. He thinks Vogue editors are too thin.
“When I’ve gone to the Vogue offices I’m always struck by how insanely thin everyone is, even the editorial assistants, who aren’t in front of a camera. I think: How many eating disorders are there on this floor? One former editorial assistant I know says that even though she’s a healthy weight and height and usually wears a size 8 or 10, she felt morbidly obese there. Isn’t that a sick statement on the industry?”
13. He doesn’t approve of Suri Cruise’s heels.
“It’s outrageous. People say, “She’s setting a fashion standard.” I say, “Preposterous!” At three? It’s not appropriate. If you’re going to the playground to play, you should wear sneakers — Mary Janes at the very most … I agree with people who have said it sexualizes her. High heels are meant to make women look longer and leaner. That’s not necessary for little girls. We don’t want alluring little girls. There’s something sick about it.”
14. He hates Crocs, but Uggs somehow escape his scorn.
“I can’t imagine a more aesthetically offensive item of footwear than Crocs. That little strap! I shudder. Plus, they’re dangerous. I was at Bloomingdale’s and saw a little girl sobbing because the escalator had eaten her shoe. The charms (yes, there are charms that one can purchase to embellish those dreadful hunks of plastic) get caught on things, too … I used to put Crocs and Uggs in the same sentence, but I don’t anymore. The Ugg brand has evolved. They do some much more fashionable things now. I’m not as despondent.”
15. One of his famous former students was dismissed for academic dishonesty. But, sadly, he won’t name names.
“He hadn’t turned in any of his own work since the beginning of junior year. He was collecting projects from wherever he could find them — including those from former students, or muslins left lying on tables. He explained that he didn’t have time to do school projects because he was so eager to get out into the real world … The fellow has since had great success, and I’m happy for him. He is incredibly talented. And yet, I’ve always felt a twinge of annoyance when I encounter his work.”