(Previously Published by Maggie Paine on 2/27/14)
Earlier this month NPR's Fresh Air interviewed Tim Gunn, fashion guru on the reality television show Project Runway. He's also the former chair of the fashion design department at Parsons.
Tim is someone you might expect to talk about fashion trends and design principles. But during the interview, Tim talked more about life than fashion. He showed honesty, humor, and humility. And he described life as a form of collaboration. As I was driving my car and listening to the interview, Tim captured my complete attention; needless to say, I was hooked... so much so, in fact, that I sat in my parked car for several minutes to listen to the rest.
Tim's story serves as a reminder that where a person comes from has a great deal to do with where a person is headed. As we journey through this crazy world, every step we take leads to another and another - and no step is taken alone. With each step forward, there are tens of thousands of footsteps that got us to the present. And, whether we take those steps in high heels, wingtips, sneakers, or combat boots, we never do so without a connection to our past and others. In reality, life is a big collaboration.
When the interview ended and I got out of my car, I thought about fashion and life - and the connection between the two. For I believe that in life there is fashion, and in fashion, there is life. Life is fashion's inspiration and, if we choose to acknowledge it or not, fashion is a part of our every day lives. In fact, I'm certain that the majority of us ask ourselves every morning, "What should I wear today?" But what we are really asking ourselves is something deeper, something that reflects who we are and how we want to present ourselves to the world. And in the deepest sense, we are asking how we want to live our lives.
As Tim Gunn said, "fashion is something that concerns everyone who gets dressed in the morning, not just some elite crew in Manhattan." Clothing is, in other words, a form of self-expression - a form of identity. How do you want others to perceive you and what do you want to say? To be sure, these are some pretty heavy questions to tackle first thing in the morning. Maybe we should just forgo the cup of coffee and go straight to a drink. Bloody Mary, please!
Until next time...