Whether on "Project Runway" or in life, it's no secret that people listen to Tim Gunn. The man knows fashion, but what's perhaps more important, the man knows life.
In "Gunn's Golden Rules," the fashion icon shares the lessons he's learned, which you can apply to your own career, relationships and life.
Read an excerpt from the book below and head to the "GMA" Library to find more good reads.
On "Project Runway," I enter the workroom and offer my thoughts—as a mentor, not a judge—on the designers' work. The advice I give most often is to "make it work."
That's not just a catchphrase. It's a philosophy I've followed my whole life, and I credit it with all the wonderful and surprising success I've had as a TV personality, teacher, and writer. What "make it work" means is that you should use what you have on hand to transform your situation. It's always possible to use whatever tools you have at your disposal to create something that you're proud of and that gets the job done.
Far too often in classes I've taught I've seen students throw out a lot of hard work and start again from scratch. They may wind up with a good garment, but they aren't learning the skills that are essential to excelling in a creative field: patience, innovation, and diligence.
I love to see students trying to learn as they go along. The designers and artists I admire spend their whole lives learning. Everything they make may not be a commercial success, but every bit of effort they make gets them closer to realizing their vision.
One of the things I admire about Project Runway is that it's really about developing creative design work. I'll never forget a woman coming up to me at an airport and saying that she loved Runway because she felt it set such a good example for her nine-year-old daughter. "It demonstrates that good qualities of character—like hard work and persistence—pay off, and cheaters never prosper," she said.
Well, that was one of the nicest things anyone's ever said to me. I love to think that we're setting a good example in that way. Few people remember it now, but Project Runway was quite controversial in the beginning. It took the mystique out of the fashion world and said, "This is a demanding, gut-wrenching industry. You need a really strong drive and love for the work in order to be successful."
I guess we shouldn't have been shocked, but people in this industry did not react well. They thought we were taking the glamour out of fashion. The design world had been enshrouded in a kind of veil of mystery, and Project Runway pulled it back to let the world see it for what it was, warts and all. We got some very nasty reviews and some very harsh comments from our colleagues.
But we wanted to tell the truth. And the truth is that in this business, crazy crises happen, like when you're waiting for the knits to get off the boat from China and the show is tomorrow and the boat doesn't dock. What do you do? Remove fourteen looks from the show? You make it work, somehow. It's a fashion 911, and you have to respond to it. You can't pretend it doesn't exist. Now the industry has bought in to the show's concept completely, and everyone pretends they loved Project Runway all along.
Well, I'm happy that the show's become so popular and that everyone is so full of praise for it, but I do remember those early days, when we were treated as though we were magicians telling everyone how the rabbit got in the hat.