By Velia Tarnoff Special to Published Nov 11, 2008 at 10:25 AM

If you're a fan of Bravo's "Project Runway" or "Tim Gunn's Guide to Style," you're probably smitten with fashion mentor Tim Gunn. And Wednesday is your chance to see him in person.

The TV personality and chief creative officer for Liz Claiborne, Inc. hosts a fashion show at Brookfield Square's Boston Store Wednesday night as part of a tour that includes stops in New Orleans and Fresno. caught up with Gunn to find out how he makes it work. You can also hear more of's interview with Tim Gunn in our podcast. Have you been to Wisconsin or Milwaukee before?

Tim Gunn: I have never been to Wisconsin, I'm ashamed to tell you, so I'm really looking forward to it.

OMC: After five seasons on "Project Runway: and one full season of "Tim Gunn's Guide to Style," it seems everybody has heard of Tim Gunn and your catch phrases. What is it like to be a household name?

TG: Actually, not everybody does know me. A bunch of high school girls will be having their photographs taken with me, then, invariably, someone comes up to me and says, "Who are you?" But really, when all this stuff happens to you after you turn 50, you really appreciate it; you realize how phenomenal it is. I'm just incredibly overwhelmed and grateful. I keep saying I'm the luckiest guy in the world, and I am. I'm very grateful to our fans, for their loyalty; I'm having the best time of my life.

OMC: You were the chair of fashion design at Parsons School of Design, a bastion of fresh faces and budding talent of the design world. Now you're CCO at Liz Claiborne. Some might wonder about a move to such a traditional, even conservative, brand.

TG: Actually, the tradition of the brand is what I'm so proud of, but keep in mind that Liz Claiborne, Inc. has a lot of brands. We have Liz Claiborne Apparel, which is our flagship brand, but we also have Juicy Couture, Lucky Brand Jeans and Kate Spade, and Monet Jewelry, and we have a lot of different things happening here. And I never dreamed I'd ever be here.

OMC: So, as for your other roles with "Project Runway" and "Tim Gunn's Guide to Style," what can you tell us? What can we expect to see from the shows?

TG: Well, we just taped season six of "Project Runway" in Los Angeles; we just finished it up about a month ago. And I will say, speaking as one who was a little dubious about what Los Angeles could offer the show, it's a phenomenal, phenomenal season.

OMC: Why were you dubious about L.A.?

TG: Well, people don't generally associate it with fashion, but I was reminded when I was there that for the first half of the last century, Hollywood really dominated the American fashion industry because there was no real American fashion industry. This is a nation of copycats; we were constantly copying what was in Europe. And it wasn't until World War II, when the couture houses closed in Paris, that American fashion ascended. But before that, it was really all about Hollywood, and it was the film industry that inspired people about what they wanted to wear.

OMC: Have you always been so stylish?

TG: No! I'd been in Washington until I was 30, so, no, and I dragged that with me to New York. Then I thought, you know, I really need to do something about how I present myself to the world. And then even when I thought I had recalibrated it in a way that was successful, I had to do it all over again when I became chair of the Fashion Design Department (at Parsons).

OMC: So, what is the single piece of advice you would give to women regarding fashion?

TG: Well, there are three keys: silhouette, proportion and fit. When those elements are in harmony and balance, you can wear anything. I'm generally inclined to tell people to relax, it's just fashion. And it's not that hard, yet, in fact, it is hard. Because if it weren't hard, everyone would look fabulous all the time.

OMC: So, why do you think it is hard? Why are people challenged?

TG: I think a lot of it has to do with not fully understanding our own size and shape. Another factor is the comfort trap. People want to feel comfortable in their clothes, so everything's a little too big, a little too roomy. And when your clothes have more volume than you have, it just adds that volume to you.

There are a lot of women in who are feeling as though they want to hide a shape or a figure that they are not feeling that proud of so they wear clothes that are a little too big and it has the opposite impact, it makes them look too big. I keep saying about "the comfort trap": If we want to dress as though we never got out of bed, don't get out of bed! It's a big issue for me. Our clothes need to fit us properly. Find a good tailor. Most dry cleaners will tailor clothes.

OMC: So, when you're not being a fashion star, what are you doing? How do you like to spend your downtime, assuming you have some?

TG: I really just like to be alone. People are always asking me for restaurant advice. Well, I don't go to restaurants, I go home and cook for myself.

OMC: What do you like to cook?

TG: Meatloaf is my favorite. And I make a good meatloaf.

Velia Tarnoff Special to

Velia Tarnoff counts among the loves of her life her daughter, her husband, her friends, writing, developing theories, dancing, live music, Southern California, black coffee and red wine. She's happiest when she can put as many of those together as possible. WWith more than 20 years of experience as a radio reporter and public relations professional, Velia is a natural communicator who loves to hear stories, to share stories and to tell it like it is.

Velia earned her B.A. from the UW School of Journalism and is thankful for every moment she spent on that wonderfully wacky campus.

And, in the interest of full disclosure, Velia is the wife of Publisher Andy Tarnoff.