"That's not awful, that's practical," Tim Gunn assures in his trademark logical-meets-comforting tone, one that has made him America's fashionable mentor for more than 15 years.
While it would be fitting to assume Gunn's words of encouragement were directed at a contestant on Making the Cut, the new Amazon Prime reality show he hosts, he was in fact consoling his Cut cohost, Heidi Klum, about her latest Amazon purchase: toilet paper.
On any given day, Gunn and Klum—who cemented their partnership on Bravo's Project Runway (opens in new tab)—might be on set, perhaps in Paris or Tokyo, wearing high-fashion emblematic of supermodels and television personalities.
But today, during this phone chat, the duo are in their respective homes, following stay-at-home orders issued due to the coronavirus pandemic. Their new show, which follows designers competing to create the next major fashion brand, debuted March 27 during a truly unique time in history: when a majority of the population are being their least fashionable selves while working from home. And that extends to Klum, who reveals that her current ensemble consists of a black Adidas tracksuit. Gunn, meanwhile, is in a turtleneck and—gasp!—jeans. It's an outfit that's both startlingly casual compared to his typical uniform of impeccably-tailored windowpane suits and much more put-together than the athleisure 'fits (opens in new tab) most other Americans have adopted.
"You're wearing your jeans?" Klum questions, audibly astonished. "I've only ever seen you in jeans when we were shopping for my husband. I don't think I've ever seen you otherwise [in jeans]."
Gunn, though, promises that he also often works from home in pajamas and his robe.
"I've talked to people who say if they get dressed as though they're going to work it instills in them a stronger sense of normalcy, but I disagree," Gunn says. "It would make it feel stranger if I'm dressed for work but I'm not going to work. But people have different points of view."
While his Project Runway catchphrase was "make it work," he, and Klum, have adopted a different motto for WFH fashion, and life, at the moment: "whatever it takes."
"On Sunday, I stayed in pajamas all day," Klum adds. "I'm definitely not a fashionista in my house right now. It's more How can I tackle everything? and that's what I'm wearing... I feel like there is no right or wrong, right now."
But don't expect to see this laidback, anything-goes Klum on Making the Cut—episode three sees the host calling out contestants for a "matchy-matchy" collection, among other critiques. Her and the show's aim is for the 12 established designers to prove they can be the next global brand, worthy of a $1 million prize. If the show sounds like Project Runway, that's because it basically is, buoyed by Amazon's wallet. (Look no further than the show jet-setting around fashion capitals of the world, employing seamstresses for contestants, or staging high-tech, beautiful runway shows at iconic tourist destinations as proof of the streaming service's deep pockets.) Gunn and Klum brought on Project Runway's longtime executive producer, Sara Rea, to helm this iteration.
But there are some major differences. Their goal this time around was to make a show about fashion that was "relevant and real," Klum explains. To that end, each episode's winning outfit becomes immediately shoppable on Amazon (opens in new tab).
"It's not a sewing competition anymore," Klum adds. "Ultimately, we want to find a great brand at the end of the day. We want to have an audience who, for the first time, if they want to, can buy the winning look. And for the designer to make money while they create clothes. The circle is finally full, and we've never had that before. That really was important for us."
Gunn says the motivation to focus on business savvy came from noticing how "volatile" the fashion industry currently is. "How many brands did you write about [last year] that are even around? It's a frightening time."
Of course, Gunn's words are doubly meaningful at a moment (opens in new tab)when many fashion houses are seeing plummeting sales (opens in new tab), shuttering stores, and have pivoted to producing medical masks instead of haute couture. But that kind of business sensibility (opens in new tab) is exactly what Gunn and Klum, plus the show's other judges—Naomi Campbell, Nicole Richie, Carine Roitfeld, Jason Altruzza, and Chiara Ferragni—are hoping to find in the show's champion.
"Yes, they're fashion designers. Yes, they make clothes. But [we're] looking for the next, big, global brand and that requires so much more than sewing skills. That's why we take up branding as being the serious core for the show," Gunn says.
And while a TV show about fashion and travel and seems increasingly irrelevant at the moment, Klum's optimism and Gunn's honesty throughout make it just bingeable enough to make you briefly forget about the state of the world. And, of course, it will remind you to support your favorite brands by online shopping (opens in new tab).
"This last week [I've ordered] everything from microwave popcorn to a cashmere sweater," Gunn admits.
Hey, whatever it takes.
For more stories like this, including celebrity news, beauty and fashion advice, savvy political commentary, and fascinating features, sign up for the Marie Claire newsletter.
- Subscribe here (opens in new tab)
Heidi Klum Swears By This $18 Face Moisturizer (opens in new tab)
As Marie Claire’s Entertainment Director, Neha oversees and executes strategy for all editorial talent bookings and culture coverage across the brand's print and digital entities, including covers, celebrity profiles and features, social takeovers, and video franchises as well as handles talent relations for MC's flagship summit, Power Trip. She's passionate about elevating diverse voices and stories, loves a hot-take, and generally hates reboots. She's worked in media for more than 10 years and her bylines about pop culture, film & tv, and fashion have appeared on Glamour, Vanity Fair, GQ, Allure, Teen Vogue, Brides, and Architectural Digest. She is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism.
The Agenda: Los Angeles
How to prepare for a visit to the City of Angels.
By Brooke Knappenberger
Our Editor's Favorite Curl-Defining Leave-In Conditioner Doubles As a Moisturizer for Skin
Stay hydrated, stay happy.
By Gabrielle Ulubay
Lucy Liu Opened Up About Her Decision to Have a Child Via Surrogate in Her Late 40s: "I Didn't Have a Plan"
It felt like the right time for her.
By Iris Goldsztajn
The 75 Best K-Dramas You'll Be Completely Hooked On
Wait, how is it already 2 a.m.?
By Quinci LeGardye
Selena Gomez Revealed Meryl Streep Is Joining 'Only Murders in the Building' Season 3
Fans are losing it.
By Iris Goldsztajn
Sophia Brown on Joining the World of ‘The Witcher: Blood Origin’
The actress opens up about the “surreal process” of playing the Lark in the Netflix fantasy prequel.
By Quinci LeGardye
'Ginny & Georgia' Season 2: Everything We Know
Netflix owes us answers after that ending.
By Zoe Guy
The Unstoppable Alia Bhatt
Bollywood’s silver-screen darling is both at the top of her game and just getting started.
By Neha Prakash
The Cast of 'The Crown' Season 5: Your Guide
The Mountbatten-Windsors have been recast—again.
By Andrea Park
Who Is Hasnat Khan, Princess Diana’s Boyfriend on Season 5 of ‘The Crown’?
Di’s friends have said she referred to the doctor as “the love of her life.”
By Andrea Park
Who Is Penelope "Penny" Knatchbull?
She and Prince Philip strike up an unlikely friendship throughout the fifth season of 'The Crown.'
By Andrea Park