Equality Magazine&#39s Interview with Tim Gunn

by HRC Staff

Below is an excerpt of an exclusive, sit-down interview with fashion guru Tim Gunn, which ran in the latest issue of HRC's Equality magazine, the largest GLBT magazine in the country. Gunn, who spoke at HRC's National Dinner, is the chief creative officer at Liz Claiborne, which scored 100 on HRC Foundation's Corporate Equality Index. Equality is a quarterly magazine with updates, features, photos, special Q and As, calls to action and more - and comes free with an HRC membership.

There you are -­ 20 stories above Manhattan's Garment District -­ in a simple
office on a small white couch. There are orchids, a wall full of books, a
few stacks of papers, a charcoal etching of a fashion model.

Then he walks in. Impeccable pin-striped suit. Silver tie. Warm smile. It's
Tim Gunn. Asking you if you want some coffee or tea. The two of you sit down
and talk about, well, everything. Buddha, being out, politics, Abraham
Lincoln, pajamas, same-sex crushes, opposite-sex crushes, being nice,
teaching, TV -­ anything goes.

It's an hour and a half of non-stop fun with America's fashion guru and the
genius behind TV's Project Runway and Tim Gunn's Guide to Style, and the
chief creative officer at Liz Claiborne and longtime force at Parsons The
New School for Design.

Handsome, nice, hysterically funny. Tim Gunn makes it work.

Equality: I understand that you were born and raised in Washington, D.C.

Gunn: Yes, my mother¹s side of the family had been there for generations. My
great-grandfather was a builder. He built a lot of the office buildings,
including the Union Station train station. My father, who passed away
several years ago, was from Cleveland, and he moved to Washington in his
third year with the FBI. He ended up being [J. Edgar] Hoover¹s ghostwriter <
he wrote his speeches and ghost-wrote his books, traveled with Hoover. I
don't know what he would have done if he had known about Hoover's

Equality: Washington is known to be have a "challenged" fashion sense. What
was it like for you to grow up in a city like that?

Gunn: Well, I had an extremely elegant grandmother, and an equally elegant
great aunt. My grandmother was never without a hat, for instance -- indoors,
outdoors. She must have had dozens and dozens of them. My great aunt was
very petite and she couldn't buy anything off the rack, so she had her own
dressmaker. She was constantly looking at what was happening in Europe.

Equality: What moment was the moment, when you look back, that played a big
part in your getting into fashion?

Gunn: For me, at least in the earlier stages of my life, it was much more
about design - about architecture and interiors, specifically. And I'll tell
you about a funny moment. Well, it was 1964, so I was 11. And my mother and
my grandmother took my younger sister and me to see the movie My Fair Lady.
I remember just wanting to live in the house that Rex Harrison lived in. And
I liked his elegance and dapperness, and the academic aspect of him. Though
I have to say it was the Ascot Gavotte scene that did it for me. It was
fantastic, and I thought "quality, taste and style." The whole movie was
transforming for me. I saw it three times.

Equality: You've described yourself, when you were young, as trying to find

Gunn: I denied having any sexuality. I kept saying...


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