VIDEO Tim Gunn unleashes on Project Runway producers over Jackie O challenge

Tim Gunn

I was part of a conference call with Tim Gunn prior to the Season 8 Premiere and he mentioned that there was a point during the season in which he interrupted the judges’ circle for the first time ever because he thought there was some confusion between what they thought the challenge was and what Tim had told the designers the challenge was. (You can read about some of what Tim talked about during that call, including his use of the term “crack smoking judges, HERE)

Thanks to Tim’s most recent vlog (which was deleted shortly after being posted) we now know that the episode in question was last week’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis challenge. For the challenge the designers were told to create American sportswear-inspired outfits for Jacki O as though she were youthful and alive today.

During the course of the vlog, in which Tim states on numerous occasions that he is still frustrated over the whole thing, he lays out a timeline for how the challenge took shape.

Because of an issue with the previous episode in which the designers were teamed up and told to take turns working on a single outfit before the challenge was redefined and the teams were divided into one designer and one creator, Tim wanted to know ahead of time about the specifics of the upcoming challenge.

He met with segment producer the day before he was to present the challenge to the designers and was told, “The designers are creating classic American sportswear,” at which point Tim Gunn interjected, “the word ‘classic’ can’t be used in this capacity. How do we know it’s classic? It’s a new design.” He admits that he was splitting hairs and continues with the story.

The producer says that there will be a twist and it is that “they’re designing classic American sportswear from their point of view.” Tim was confused and she attempted to clarify by saying, “they’re first designing classic American sportswear and then classic American sportswear from their point of view.”

The veins on Tim’s forehead began to swell as he pointed out the absurdity of the challenge and the “twist:” “This doesn’t make any sense! Why wouldn’t they be designing from their point of view from the onset of the challenge?” He goes on, “What am I telling them, that we’re going shopping at Macy’s? What are they doing? They’re copying existing design work?”

Angry Tim Gunn

Tim then went to Project Runway executive producer Sara Rea and said, “Sara help me with this. What is this about?”

PR producer Colleen Sands was also in the meeting and revealed that the challenge was “really about a History Channel bio pic about Jackie Kennedy and the winning look will be worn by Katie Holmes in the film.”

Tim exclaimed that this fact needs to be revealed to the designers because they are basically being asked to produce period costumes.

Tim, Sara and Colleen continue their discussion and eventually conclude that the challenge needs to go away and that the next challenge would instead be designing looks for various dances, ie “tango, waltz, whatever – the watusi.” Tim is told the reveal will be held the next morning at a dance studio two blocks from Parsons.

Tim, as you might expect, arrives on time and is ready to let the designer’s know that they will be designing dance costumes, but there’s no one there! “So I go to Parsons,” Tim says. “Nobody there knows where anyone is. This is emblematic of the season, let me tell you.” (WOW!)

Tim Gunn - you wouldn't like hiim when he's angry

Tim eventually finds out the new location and when he arrives there is a backdrop full of Jackie Kennedy iconography. At this point Tim goes off on a rant about connecting Jackie to American sportswear in the first place, stating that Jackie wore few American designers and is famous n the history of fashion for introducing the United States to European designers. “So the whole challenge from the beginning is cuckoo,” he concludes.

The Katie Holmes/bio pic thing is gone so now the challenge is no longer about designing period costumes, but about what Jackie would wear today. Tim proposed some clarification on the twist by recommending the challenge be introduced as designing two-piece American sportswear for Jackie O with the twist of adding outerwear later.

Tim goes off on another angry tangent at this point, revealing that he was forbidden from using the name “Onassis” because of something to do with the Kennedy estate.

Tim points out that for some reason the “two-piece” part of the challenge was edited out of the episode and that Gretchen was a great help in the Q&A between Tim and the designers in helping the contestants understand exactly what the challenge was.

Project Runway Mondo's winning design from the Jackie O challenge
Above: Mondo’s winning look from the Jackie Kennedy challenge. Click the photo to see a larger image and click here to see more angles from!

Next up Tim talks about interrupting the judges’ circle for the first time ever. He states that the judges had dossiers with the Jackie O photos that were projected behind Tim when he presented the challenge to the designers and they were criticizing the looks because they weren’t something Jackie would have worn then. Tim felt as though he had to step in and say that wasn’t how the challenge was presented to the designers, that they had been told to create looks for a young and vibrant Jackie Kennedy today. Here’s exactly how he said he presented it to the designers:

“Jackie Kennedy is alive and well. She’s a youthful, vibrant woman – she’s not 80. She’s going to each designer because she loves their point of view. So what would you design for Jackie Kennedy today. What would she wear?”

“Then I left the circle and of course the judges are all looking at each other like, ‘I think someone needs a straight jacket.’ Well, I did! But nothing was going to restrain me! I would have broken out of the straight jacket! And don’t mess with my designers judges!”

Go get ’em Tim!

Here’s a bonus clip from with some additional video footage of the judges’ comments on Valerie Mayen’s design:

As I mentioned earlier in the post the vlog was deleted shortly after it was posted, but whether or not it was because of pressure from the shows producers or perhaps Tim having second thoughts about being so harsh isn’t clear. Thankfully there were some folks who saved it while it was still up and it has since spread to numerous video hosting sites on the internet.

So do you like the assertive bulldog Tim? Be sure to check out his fantastic memoir Tim Gunn’s Golden Rules in which he talks about his amazing life and shares some not-so-flattering stories about numerous celebrities!