Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tim Gunn and I discuss Kate Spade.

Friday night, something big happened.  Tim Gunn came to Naperville to promote his new book, "Tim Gunn's Fashion Bible."  Obviously, I went to meet him.  Mike in tow.

It was earlier that week that Mike took me by the shoulders when we were passing by Anderson's on a Naperville date night.  He showed me the sign taped to the window that THE god of fashion himself would be gracing our presence.  I rushed inside, bought the book, and started buzzing.

I read through nearly half of it in the two short days I had to prepare, and found that not only is Tim Gunn amazing in fashion, but he's also great at WRITING about it!  So much history packed into this book.  By the time you're done you'll be convinced there's no such thing as a trend.  Everything dates back to Egyptians or Greeks.

Gunn makes a clear effort to denote varying levels of fashion and their practicalities for the wearers.  I believe that many a woman looks at runway fashion and immediately crawls into herself thinking that she could never wear such a thing (nor could she imagine a location and REASON for wearing such a thing!).  Gunn relates to the everyday woman, suggesting that runway is not the end-all and be-all of fashion: "I appreciate the showmanship of avant-garde designers, the fantasies of Hollywood, and the aspiration nature of fashion magazines.  But at the end of the day, for me, the priority is wearability" (Gunn 52).  As women read this, I hope a collective sigh of relief is breathed!  Fashion should not be avoided, but embraced in wearable ways. 

In my image consulting work, I find that women have trouble embracing fashion because they think it means wearing ridiculously confining outfits of obtuse proportions with five-inch heels to playgroup.  For years, designers (especially female designers) have been moving fashion toward a more embraceable status, directed at the everyday woman.  As a wonderful example, Gunn calls upon Coco Chanel's revolutionary designs for her time: "The dropped-waist Chanel day dress, made of leight-weight jersey, was a revelation.  By wearing the dress, a woman sent the message that she was not a bird in a cage.  She needed to move around freely, because she was part of the world" (Gunn 61).  I love the image of a woman standing on a pedestal, draped in obscene amounts of cloth and design, where she exists only to look good.  Then, she slowly tears apart the garments into a wearable (but still fabulous) outfit, hops off the pedestal, and does something powerful in the world.  Here is the current fashionable woman.

Throughout history, women have bent over backward for fashion.  It is SO much less so now, and especially since the simplification of the 90s.  I still love the idea, though, of retracing some old-school fashion concepts; digging them from the archives and resurrecting them as a trend.  (Thick, corset-like belts, anyone?)   

Overall, he has a very present emphasis on the everyday woman and wearable fashion.  Do not be fooled, though.  He makes it clear that wearable doesn't always mean pajama-comfortability: "Too often, a woman maintains that such a baggy dress is comfortable.  Pajamas are comfortable!  Comfort shouldn't be exclusively ruling your fashion choices" (Gunn 65).   Well put, Tim.

Ok, onto the fun part!  The pictures!  Woo!!

Can you see the excitement on my face?

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If you're wondering what I meant by the title, Tim and I shared a moment over my blue Kate Spade shoes.  We took a moment to praise the goddess of punch as we discussed wearable trends in women's fashion.  He was a sweet, sweet man, and it was my pleasure to meet him!

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