Timothy Gunn is an American author, academic and TV personality best known for being a mentor on Project Runway. He was Chair of Fashion Design at Parsons School of Design and later Chief Creative Officer for Liz Claiborne.
Gunn grew up in Washington, D.C. and was fascinated by the arts from a young age. His father was an FBI agent and classical pianist who encouraged Tim‘s creative interests.
After graduating high school in the affluent Chevy Chase area, Gunn attended the Corcoran College of Art and Design in D.C. He earned a bachelor‘s degree in sculpture. Gunn then headed to New York City to attend the prestigious Parsons School of Design, receiving his master‘s degree in fashion design.
Shortly after finishing his Parsons degree in 1983, Gunn was hired by the school to teach fashion design classes. He quickly demonstrated his passion for teaching and mentoring young creatives.
"I saw opportunities for our students at Parsons that other schools didn‘t have," Gunn recalled. "I wanted to bring the resources students needed to Parsons."
Gunn steadily moved up the ranks, becoming associate dean in 1989. In August 2000, he was appointed Chair of the fashion design program, helping overhaul the curriculum. Former students praise Gunn‘s exacting critiques and high standards.
In 2004, Gunn‘s celebrity profile skyrocketed when he was cast on a new fashion design reality show, Project Runway. As the competition‘s co-host and mentor, Gunn guided the aspiring designers, offering honest criticisms and advice.
"Make it work!" became Gunn‘s signature catchphrase on the show.
Gunn won an Emmy for Outstanding Host in 2013, followed by a 2014 Emmy for his Project Runway spin-off Under the Gunn. He has since hosted other fashion shows like Project Runway Junior and Tim Gunn‘s Guide to Style.
In 2007, Gunn was named Chief Creative Officer at Liz Claiborne Inc. where he worked with major brands like Juicy Couture. He‘s also written several fashion advice books, including Tim Gunn‘s Fashion Bible, and columns for Marie Claire and HuffPost.
An openly gay man, Gunn uses his platform to advocate for LGBTQ rights and AIDS charities. He‘s been in a relationship with his partner Michael Ost for over 30 years.
Though he avoids social media himself, Gunn engages with fans at public events. He enjoys history, architecture, and museums in his personal time.
With his passion for design, reputation as an educator, and unique celebrity, the sophisticated yet approachable Gunn has become an authority in fashion and pop culture. Now 70, he continues to inspire new talent on Project Runway with his wisdom and eye for quality craftsmanship.