Through Jan. 7, the Emmy Award-winning former Project Runway host is leading a master class, “Innovation for Impact,” at Boston’s Emerson College. In his own life, Gunn embraces change, but that doesn’t mean you’ll see him without a tie on TV anytime soon.
In a pre-COVID world, you told us sweatpants are for workouts and that comfort isn’t king. Is that still your truth?
I understand the comfort trap. I used to have nothing but disdain for it. I get it now, and it’s been a liberation. I mean, right now I’m wearing a turtleneck and no pants! (laughing). I still like getting dressed up. It does make you feel good, but at the same time, lounging around the house in a suit doesn’t make you feel good. It’s ridiculous.
Can some of that at-home style stay as we reenter the office?
Absolutely. I’m not going to jettison my wardrobe. But I am modifying it, unless it’s an event where I really need to wear a suit — in which case I’m wearing the same suit in the same way that I did pre-pandemic. But I look at my wardrobe in a slightly different way. Well, not even slightly — in a very different way now.
How do you flex that muscle, especially when for some, change is hard and gets harder with age?
If we don’t embrace innovation and change, we just stagnate. You have to make it happen, or at least have very sensitive radar that allows you to detect when something has potential and you can cultivate it. We would have a dull, awful existence if we just did the same thing day in and day out, even things that we happen to like or even love. It’s like what I always say about clothing: “Try it on.” Take some risks.
What do your students teach you?
They teach me about pop culture for one. My students always kept me current. I always learned from them. That was a prime reason why I loved it so much. That and watching them evolve and have a kind of epiphany about who they can be and who they can become. To me that’s the most thrilling thing imaginable. You’re witnessed the triumph of the human spirit.
We have to talk about Heidi Klum, your TV partner all these years and current cohost on Amazon’s Making the Cut. Share with us something we might not know about her.
All that you really need to know about Heidi is that every crew member adores her, and crew members do not suffer fools gladly. She’s never late, she’s always so kind to people, asking them questions about how they are and what they are doing. She’s a real person. I think it’s why we’ve been together for 17 years. She calls me her TV husband. I’m very flattered. She also says it’s the longest relationship she’s ever had.
What’s the next big thing in fashion?
I’ve developed a kind of cynicism about this whole thing, because fashion is a pendulum. If the skinny jean is in, then next season it will be the boyfriend jean, because retailers want us to buy things. I’m always saying to people, don’t chase trends. Go with what you look good in and just keep repeating it.
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