Monday, September 10, 2007

Someone needs to say it

Once upon a time, a TV executive in England had a brilliant idea: Let's create a TV show in which an average woman opens her heart and her wardrobe to the scrutiny of two semi-celebs/fashion gurus, wins some tough love and a chunk of money while confronting her demons and her muffin-top in front of the nation. This concept has launched the careers of Trinny and Susannah, spawned an American version and brought Stacy and Clinton into our lives. Your mileage may vary.

It's been years since the first seasons. Everyone and their husbands have learned a few basics. We all know now how to elongate the leg, get our jeans tailored and find a well-fitting bra. I've met people who have drinking games around words and phrases like "Shut up!", "ruching" and "cinch the waist". Trinny and Susannah have started to delve into the psychological aspects of women's wardrobes. They have shows in which they literally walk in the women's shoes: They change places with them, wear their clothes and try to understand what made them buy that hideous Laura Ashley-on-crack dress. Meanwhile, on our shores, Stacy and Clinton have been bringing their 360-degree mirror to exotic locales like Miami, saving the happy winners from schlepping their college hoodies all the way to Manhattan. Not a bad idea, but doesn't show much evolving.

Enter Tim Gunn's Guide to Style.

The show may be trying to go that extra mile: To give someone a fashion makeover combined with a deep and meaningful epiphany (the sound you might be hearing is Stacy and Clinton snorting in amusement). The problem? It fails miserably. This isn't the fault of Tim Gunn and his new sidekick, Veronica Webb. Mr. Gunn is as charming, mentorish and lovable as ever. You'd still want to take him home and let him rummage through your unmentionables. Even with the scary and tall ex-supermodel hovering in the background. You might even tolerate her as a shopping companion, knowing she'll never scream at you or talk about the size of your "girls". Neither would Tim, for that matter.

It's not the concept as much as the format, editing and directing that is failing Tim Gunn. He's as gracious and as authentic as ever. I met him earlier this year in a charity event, and can testify how his charm and manners light up the room and make you feel oh-so-special when he's talking to you. All these charm and grace can't help when molded into a tacky and cheesy opening sequence in which our candidate receives a "surprising" phone call telling her Tim and Veronica are coming. Seriously, this is a script worthy of the HSN or QVC. Who needs it?

The "life coach" (the guy looked 19. How much life has he really seen, to be "coaching" others?) part was edited to death, making the whole session look more goofy than life-changing. While it was fun to watch the dress fitting with Catherine Malandrino, the rest of the show was much more about emotional manipulation, both of the show's subject and of the viewers than about fashion, style or Tim Gunn. I'm all for family reunions and young love, just not with my fashion fix, thank you very much.

Tim Gunn's Guide to Style airs on Bravo every Thursday night at 10 PM/9 CT


  1. Oh! I totally agree but felt so guilty admitting it, for I love Tim so.

    That life coach was ridiculous. I wish they would have shaped the show around building your wardrobe with Tim's 10 essentials (this part was actually useful). Either do one show on each item and how to find one that best complements your body, and then branch out into "extras" like boots, etc...or focus each episode around building that 10-item wardrobe for a particular woman, and showing her how she can mix and match the pieces to create more looks.

    The rest of the current format should be scrapped. The silly phone call, the life coach...totally unnecessary. And shoppping for lingerie BASICS at La Petite Coquette is nonsense!

  2. I wish I didn't miss it *sob*

    Are they somewhere online? :(

  3. I liked Episode 2 better - the woman was someone who really needed help and she was from a modest New Jersey neighborhood, not Manhattan.

    The idea of "upscaling" the same things they do on WNTW is appealing to my fantasy side, but there is actually SOME practicality involved here. I am sure the Catherine Malandrino party dress alone cost as much as the entire budget on WTNW, but other items were more realistic.

    Of course, I will watch it no matter what, 'cuz I love Tim!


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