Tim Gunn is taking more of a backseat in his new show, Under the Gunn, and by calling on his own Project Runway mentees to mentor a new group of 15 young designers. On January 16, we’ll watch as America’s favorite fashion mentor passes the torch to Project Runway alumni Mondo Guerra, Anya Ayoung-Chee and Nick Verreos to let them pave the way. Under Tim’s watchful eye, each mentor guides their team through the competition, refining their designs for runway success.
Out of excitement for the show’s debut, Gunn gave us an idea of what to expect. “It feels very behind the scenes and I think it’s largely…because so much of the dialog that we have has to do with the mentoring process, how it’s going, what’s working, what isn’t working. And these are all things that are in my head on ‘Runway’ but I have no one to speak to about it, so those things stay in my head.”
As for the judges who will be making the final decisions each week, expect to see fashion industry veterans like Rachel Roy, Jen Rade and Zanna Roberts Rassi. Of course, since it’s a show about mentoring and shaping the future of fashion, we’ll be watching closely to see how these mentors mold the new designers: “the good mentor is a coach, a cheerleader, a truth teller.”
In terms of the design talent that Tim hopes to discover with this new endeavor, he admits that it’s hard to nail down. “I would say to my students the two easiest things to do are to create dumb clothes and make jokes. And dumb clothes for me is a T-shirt; the world doesn’t need you to make a T-shirt. There are plenty of them out there. And jokes, for me, are those things that we see walking the runway during a Paris Couture Week. So, those two polarities are so easy to design for. Yes, it’s easy to make a T-shirt. It’s easy to make a float in the parade. But to make real clothes that are innovative and believable is a huge challenge, and it’s why when people do do it well, the world cheers.”
With this new show, we’re certainly looking forward to seeing if Tim can find that je-ne-sais-qoi in one of the contestants. Amidst the drama and crazy challenges that are sure to ensue, we simply can’t wait to be “wowed and dazzled,” like Tim himself expects to be. We fashion folk crave innovation, and “Under the Gunn” will valiantly (and intelligently) push young designers to find that. After all, “when it comes to fashion, we want something new, we want something that lifts us just a couple of inches off the ground spiritually.”