Tim Gunn Captivates Penn State Fashionistas

Penn State has attracted a variety of guest speakers, from political leaders to historic figures, but no one quite like the iconic fashion mentor, Tim Gunn, has made an appearance until now.

Gunn lectured to a crowd of Penn State fashion-obsessed students on Thursday night in the Eisenhower Auditorium.

The room was full of awe-inspired girls, guys and even some mothers and daughters dressed in their best attire. He even shared with the crowd that he only chooses to speak at three places a year—and Penn State is one of them!

Gunn spoke about his life-long career in fashion and how it strangely started, beginning as a professor at Parsons The New School For Design in 1982, and then becoming the associate dean and later the chair. Originally, Gunn was not interested in fashion one bit.

“I’m not really a fashion guy…not even remotely,” he says.

He was somewhat thrown into the fashion department at Parsons when it was in desperate need for change and re-launched the entire curriculum. He believes because he is not a fashion designer and never pretended to be, he was successful in changing the curriculum.

Gunn admitted he does not have the educational experience in fashion – but he certainly has an eye for style. From there, Gunn began working on the well-known Project Runway as a fashion consultant and father figure to the contestants.

Gunn spoke about his relationships with the judges – Michael Kors, Heidi Klum and Nina Garcia – and how he builds bonds with the contestants over the season.

He jokes, “I’m the father bear, I’m not gonna leave my kids to those wolves!”

Gunn is not only a television personality, but an author, actor and an advocate for the Design Piracy Prohibition Act, as well. He has appeared in multiple TV dramas like Ugly Betty and Gossip Girl, and he will be the voice of characters in two upcoming movies. He has also written three fashion-focused books.

Gunn’s newest book, “A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style” was named after he was asked not to use the words “quality, taste or style” in the book.

His down-to-earth personality and years of hard work seemed to captivate the audience. Students ran to the microphones at the end of the lecture and anxiously awaited Gunn’s response to their personal questions.

Gunn left off with some great advice for the crowd.

“You never know where life is going to take you…take risks, throw the dice…and take the high road no matter how much you want to b*tch slap your boss or family member,” he says.

Photos by Jill O’Brien