The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Friday, February 02, 2007  

Tim Gunn Has His Priorities Skewed

This evening I was listening to WHYY-FM, the generally excellent NPR affiliate in Philadelphia, a station that loses a few quality points for playing far too much jazz on weekends and for carrying Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion even though another local outlet, WRTI-FM, plays the same insipid program a day earlier week after week.

WHYY's greatest failing, in my opinion, is paying good money for the privilege (I suppose they might frame it that way) of broadcasting Marketplace, a production of American Public Media, hosted by Kai Ryssdal, easily the most god-awful business program I've ever seen or heard.

Today, though, Marketplace offered some unintended lucidity and levity, if that's the word, during reporter Alisa Roth's report, "NYC's Fashion Week Looks for More Weight," about the rag trade's sudden realization that too many runway models just might possibly be quite dangerously thin.

Roth managed to score some sound bites from Tim Gunn, best known as the surly, patronizing, and questionably accomplished advisor to the contestants on Bravo TV's Project Runway.

The transcript is not online, but the audio is, and if you listen you will catch a clearly disturbed Gunn offering this observation about the fashion shows, which I captured by my own transcription:

I don't want to sit and watch a runway show and wince and recoil because that model on the runway looks like she should be in a hospital bed. It's really unsettling.

Hey! Tim's with the program!

Or not. The Principessa of Parsons then quickly offered this:

And worse yet, it's a distraction from the clothes! You really want to see the clothes, you don't want to see the elbow and knee joints.

There were no other direct quotes from Gunn, but Roth tossed in a few additional mal mots from the future Liz Claiborne Inc. officer: "Still, he says clothes do look more elegant on lithe figures than those with bulging bellies and double-wide backsides."

Okay, Tim. So no "elbow and knee joints" and no fatties. So what to do?

Roth's report then had Gunn babbling about the "answer" to the problem having nothing to do with "broccoli" when models typically subsist on cigarettes and Champagne (What? Cocaine is out now?), but by then I was so disgusted I stopped listening.

You're right, Tim, it's not about the "girls," it's about the clothes. We can't have anything distracting from the frocks, can we?

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