THE GREATEST LESSON TIM GUNN EVER LEARNED

Tim Gunn—educator, author, and co-host and mentor for the smash fashion design reality show Project Runway since its debut in 2004—spoke to a packed house of students at the Haft Auditorium on April 2. With his characteristic warmth and charm, he walked the audience through his career, beginning with his realization that he “didn’t like sweating and didn’t like getting dirty…I loved learning and I loved education.”

It wasn’t until he started studying art, he said, that he discovered who he was. Then a mentor asked him to help teach a design course—and almost three decades later, he hasn’t looked back.

Project Runway star Tim Gunn spoke at a Dean's Forum for the Jay and Patty Baker School of Business and Technology. Photo by Lorenzo Ciniglio.

Project Runway star Tim Gunn spoke at a Dean’s Forum for the Jay and Patty Baker School of Business and Technology. Photo by Lorenzo Ciniglio.

The greatest lesson he ever learned is that “the world owes you nothing. You have to make your own place in it. You have to do everything at 150 percent or greater.”

Asked by a student what it’s like to influence so many people through shows like Project Runway and his books on personal style, Gunn said, “I hope I’m giving people the confidence to make their own decisions [in what to wear]. If fashion were easy, everyone would look fabulous.”

Tim Gunn greets students before the event. Photo by Lorenzo Ciniglio.

Tim Gunn greets students before the event. Photo by Lorenzo Ciniglio.

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DESIGNING THE AMERICAN DREAM: ELIE TAHARI

Elie Tahari, the Israeli fashion designer known for the best and worst things a woman could possibly wear to a job interview—the designer suit and the tube top—visited FIT yesterday to celebrate 40 years in fashion.

He was interviewed by Patricia Mears, deputy director of The Museum at FIT, about his career.  He began an impecunious immigrant in New York City, sleeping in Central Park, and slowly built his brand into a $500 million empire.

Elie Tahari shares his wisdom with Patricia Mears in the Katie Murphy Amphitheatre at FIT

Elie Tahari shared his wisdom with Patricia Mears in the Katie Murphy Amphitheatre at FIT

He said he learned a lot by making clothes at every price point. “It’s easy to do beautiful clothes for $10,000. It’s harder to make clothes for a lot less.”

When a student asked him how to make it in the fashion industry, he replied that the current global market gives every designer, big and small, an equal opportunity. “If you do one good thing well, you have the internet, you have India and China, you have Europe, you have everybody.”

Tahari talked with students at a post-event reception.

Tahari talked with students at a post-event reception.

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MESSAGES FROM THE TOP

Instead of holding meetings, the larger-than-life Vogue editrix Diana Vreeland communicated through memos, dictated from the privacy of her office (and sometimes her bathroom, where she had a phone installed). She sent them to editors, fashion designers, photographers, and anyone else involved in creating the magazine.

Her grandson, Alexander Vreeland, collected these missives, along with the images from Vogue that they helped engineer, in a coffee-table book, published by Rizzoli in 2013. On March 25, another of her grandsons, Nicholas Vreeland, and a great-grandson, Reed Vreeland, chatted about the book in the Katie Murphy Amphitheatre. The event was part of The Museum at FIT’s Fashion Culture programming.

diana-vreeland-memos

Her missives are at turns funny, visionary, and insane. In one, she stressed the importance of seeing the ankle bones of Gypsies in editorial images. In another, she imagined a Vogue shoot taking place on the moon.

The letters were typed on many layers of onionskin. “If you got a clear memo, you were on top,” Nicholas remembered. “If you got a smudgy memo, you were probably the equivalent of an intern.”

She was relentless in getting her point across, often sending two or three memos about the importance of, say, the color gray.

“It’s very important to read them aloud,” Nicholas said. “You really get a sense of the way she used words.”

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FIT STUDENTS PHOTOGRAPH VANISHING AFRICAN TRIBES

Last January, FIT students Trupal Pandya, Photography ’14, and Alexander Papakonstadinou, Photography ’14, visited the Omo Valley in Ethiopia to document five tribes: the Bena, Mursi, Hamar, Arbore, and Ari. Just in time, too: the traditional ways of these peoples are losing ground to the lure of Western, materialist pleasures.

Copyright Trupal Pandya

Copyright Trupal Pandya

The students spent ten days traveling around the valley, living with the tribes and photographing madly. Some of the people they met were naked; others were adorned with beads; still others were painted with ash.

Copyright Alexander Papakonstadinos

Copyright Alexander Papakonstadinou

Of the traditions he watched, Pandya was most astonished by a bull-jumping rite of passage. “The boy has to jump over ten bulls to prove that he’s an adult, to get married,” he says. Now that’s a lot of bull!

Copyright Trupal Pandya

Copyright Trupal Pandya

About 40 of these pictures will be presented in the Marvin Feldman Center lobby from today, March 21, to April 4. And on March 25 at 6 pm, Pandya and Papakonstadinou will preside over a reception to share the stories behind the work.

Copyright Alexander Papakonstadinou

Copyright Alexander Papakonstadinou

Pandya is no stranger to stunning travel photography. The spring issue of Hue, coming out in April, will feature his riveting, brilliantly hued images from the Holi festival in India.

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TATTOO ARTISTS IN MOTION, PART FIVE: CHRIS TORRES

Hue presents the last in a five-part video series highlighting alumni tattoo artists. If you haven’t yet, check out part one, part two, part three, and part four.

Chris Torres, Illustration ’97, is co-owner of Chris Torres’ Red Legged Devils Studio, a new ink spot near the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. In this video, he talks about how tattooing on skin differs from drawing on paper.

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