Thursday, January 16, 2014

Under The Gunn Debuts Tonight!

So, two of my favorite things: Tim Gunn and Things Related to Tim Gunn. 

So naturally that means I'll be watching Lifetime’s new Under The Gunn, a new fashion competition series in which Mr. Gunn is the host, and former PR stars Mondo Guerra, Anya Ayoung-Chee and Nick Verreos will be the mentors.

Each mentor will have a team of designers to manage, coach, encourage and maybe smackdown in order to win the runway. The designers will face critiques from designer Rachel Roy, celebrity stylist Jen Rade, and TV fashion correspondent and Marie Claire Senior Fashion Editor Zanna Roberts Rassi.

In the first two episodes, Tim tasks the designtestants with a race-around-the-clock challenge to determine which four designers will land on which mentor’s team. In future episodes, Tim will present new challenges to test the mentors' ability to bring out the best in their designers as they design and sew and create to compete in the finale, where one designer — and one mentor — will be deemed the winners of "Under the Gunn."

Here’s who’s who:

Tim Gunn: Host
Tim Gunn is the Emmy® Award winning co-host and mentor for Project Runway and also the Fashion Dean at Fifth & Pacific where he works with the creative talent within the portfolio of brands.

Before that, he was the Chief Creative Officer at Liz Claiborne Inc, and served as both administrator and faculty member at Parsons School of Design. In 2000, he was appointed Chair of the Department of Fashion Design at Parsons and revamped and reinvigorated the curriculum. Upon leaving Parsons, Gunn received the title of Honorary Chair of Fashion Design at the school and Liz Claiborne, Inc. endowed a scholarship in his name.

Tim Gunn delivered the 2009 keynote speech at Harvard Business School’s Conference on Luxury Retail, as well as covering the red carpet at the Oscars, the Emmys and the Golden Globes, and co-hosting the Official Oscar Red Carpet Pre-Show in 2009 and 2011. He has written for "Elle," "Seventeen," "People," "US Weekly" and "Fortune" and has a monthly feature in "People Style Watch" and "Marie Claire."

Something I didn’t know? Tim Gunn was named one of People magazine's "Sexiest Men Alive" in 2006, and in 2009, Marvel comics made him a superhero in their revival of Models, Inc. with a special feature, "Loaded Gunn," in which he dons the Iron Man armor to fight crimes against fashion.

He also gives a good deal of his time to charitable organizations associated with domestic violence, AIDS awareness and LGBT issues, like the National Domestic Violence Hotline, GMHC, the Hetrick-Martin Institute, Bailey House, and the Human Rights Campaign.

Anya Ayoung-Chee: Mentor
Anya is a Caribbean designer and studied at both Central Saint Martins and Parsons The New School for Design. Her design career began when she represented Trinidad and Tobago in the 2008 Miss Universe Pageant, and she made her first fashion statement in by launching her women’s label, PILAR, in 2009 and a lingerie line named ANYA DE ROGUE in 2010.

In 2011, Anya appeared in Season 9 of the PR and won the crown after her collection TOBAGO LOVE was shown at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. Since then, Anya has launched the travel line, ANYA, and shown her collections in New York, London, South Africa and throughout the Caribbean.

Mondo Guerra: Mentor
Denver based fashion designer Mondo Guerra was the runner-up — I say he was robbed — on PR, Season 8, and then went on win the debut season of Project Runway All Stars.

He has a collection of frames and sunglasses with SEE Eyewear, and a portion of sales benefit amFAR. In Spring 2014, Mondo and Crocs will release the first designs of their collaboration. Crocs? Mondo? M’kay.

Mondo has also teamed up with Merck for I Design, a national education campaign underscoring the importance for people living with HIV/AIDS to talk with their doctors about personal treatment goals. He revealed his HIV+ status on the PR after designing the challenge-winning print "Pozitivity" after more than 10 years of personal silence. He continues to advocate for HIV/AIDS awareness with appearances throughout the country, but will also premier his own label this year.

Nick Verreos: Mentor
Nick has loved fashion since growing up in Venezuela as a child of a Greek-American Diplomat father and a glamorous Panamanian mother. After graduating from the Advanced Fashion Design Program at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising [FIDM] he worked in the Southern California fashion industry for 10 years.

In 2001 he co-founded NIKOLAKI with his design and business partner David Paul, and has dressed celebrities like Katy Perry, Heidi Klum, Beyoncé, Eva Longoria and Carrie Underwood. In 2013 Nick launched NV Nick Verreos Contemporary Dress line  sold at both Dillard's and Lord & Taylor.

Nick received national attention after appearing on the PR and has appeared as a red carpet fashion expert and correspondent for E!, NBC and CNN International. He has been featured in ad campaigns for Virgin Mobile, Sears and General Motors and has collaborated and made gowns for many companies including Wrigley's/Orbit Gum, Heineken, Basil Hayden and Mattel.

At 53, Amy is one of the oldest designtestants. She references classic American sportswear with careful attention to fabric and detail. Her mother taught her to sew when she was nine and Amy began making her own cooler versions of the garments her friends were buying at department stores.

When a college instructor talked her out of pursuing fashion, she studied Home Economics, got married, had kids, and started her own Jazzercise franchise. After nearly losing her college-football-player son to a sudden illness, Amy realized life is too short; she returned to school and earned her fashion degree at age 49.

Asha Daniels
Asha, 25, says she is feisty as hell, and sharp as a tack. Her design aesthetic is modern and young, but there’s also a toughness to her work that reflects her own strength as a woman.

Though she grew up in a poor neighborhood, Asha’s parents made her education a top priority. She earned a full scholarship at a prestigious high school in Cincinnati, and then beat out 2,000 people for a scholarship to fashion school at the University of Cincinnati. She recently interned at Marchesa — and actually met The Beautiful Georgina Chapman™ — and a dress she helped drape became a part of the bridal collection.

Blake Smith
This self-described uptight, highly competitive 25-year-old lives for "FASHION, not apparel." He designs uber-feminine, flowing garments and has little regard for the ready-to-wear market. Uh oh.

He had a loving, supportive, but turbulent upbringing — his mother has been married six times and moved around a lot — and  credits his mom with inspiring his love for fashion. He's openly gay, but has never been in a relationship with a man and says he prefers the company of women. He’s been designing for LC by Lauren Conrad for Kohl's for several years now, and he's ready to branch out and start his own line.

Brady Lange
Brady is 29, and good-looking and well aware of it. Describing himself as "the happiest bitchy person you know," he designs fun, bright clothes for the cool kids.

Brady grew up on a small farm in Montana, where his parents grew all their own food. Brady learned to sew in high school, but he didn’t think fashion was a money-making career but after enrolling at the Art Institute he finally felt at home, realizing he never should have left fashion design.

Camila Castillo
Though based in Caracas, Camila, 47, is a New York City girl, with a throaty Brooklyn accent and edgy, eccentric outfits.

Born in NYC, she moved with her family to Venezuela as a pre-teen and grew up surrounded by artists who inspired her to go into fashion. After a rough period — a strained relationship with her mother and a series of deaths in the family — Camilla became addicted to pain killers, but after undergoing rehab she has been clean and sober for eight years. She's married and has a seven-year-old son but is determined to move her family out of Caracas and pursue her dreams in NYC.

Isabelle Donola
This quirky-cool 33-year-old Brazilian might be a hot mess, but under her laissez-faire attitude is fearlessness and relentless optimism. She designs modern, out-of-the-box garments, playing with details and asymmetrical silhouettes.

Growing up in a working class suburb of Rio de Janeiro, her mother taught Isabelle to hand-sew at age three and by six she had created a collection for her Barbie dolls. Her path deviated from design when she began studying ballet but a broken leg forced her to shift focus again, and she found herself skateboarding professionally. She came back to fashion design in 2004 after opening a designer co-op in LA, and, more recently, moving to New York to cultivate her own brand.

Melissa Grimes
This Southern belle, 29, offers endless, filter-free commentary on every topic and calls Julia Sugarbaker of "Designing Women" her 'spirit guide.' Her easygoing garments cater to the girl-on-the-go who favors a modern, feminine style.

Melissa's interest in fashion design began while watching her great-grandmother sew. In high school, she helped design a huge antebellum gown for a local event, and though she briefly dabbled in interior design, she switched her major to apparel. She also spent time in Africa with the Peace Corps teaching girls to sew. Back home, she owns a clothing company with two best friends, though she also works as an assistant mortgage broker.

Michelle Überreste
Michelle, 29, often dresses like she's at Burning Man or starring in a sci-fi movie. She is also an ardent Christian who creates exquisitely made garments, like a silver harness that Mondo wanted to wear.

Raised on a farm Michelle learned to sew at age five. After losing their house and land to repeated flooding, her family built a new house and that sparked Michelle's interest in construction and design. Not a patient person, she often butts heads with authority; there's a right and wrong way to do everything, says Michelle, and she's utterly convinced that she does things right.

Natalia Fedner
Natalia, 30, emigrated from the Ukraine to Ohio at age six, and refused to speak English until she perfected her American accent. 

Born into a family of overachievers, Natalia quickly became an overachiever herself: she was captain of the cheerleading team, editor of the school newspaper, a member of every club possible—and ultimately a shining graduate of Parsons. She claims to have foot-in-mouth disease, which has caused her to lose some close friends, and her boyfriends have all complained that she is too focused on work to hold up her end of a relationship.

Nicholas Komor
Arrogant and cold as ice, Nicholas, 26, might be the UTG villain. His modular menswear is fresh and gender-bending, and his womens-wear has a cool simplicity of impeccable tailoring and use of detail.

Nicholas played the piano competitively for 11 years and intended to study music in college, but suddenly changed his major to industrial design. When he didn’t get a callback for Season 7 of the PR, he enrolled in the London College of Fashion. He admits he has a tense relationship with his family, pushing himself to excel in his career because that’s all he has to discuss with them. His parents don’t approve of his "gay lifestyle," and have never met his long-term boyfriend.

Oscar Garcia-Lopez
This 40-year-old Cuban refugee is immensely passionate, and driven by his love for design. His exquisite evening wear is embellished with ornate details that definitely have a wow factor.

Oscar made two attempts to flee Cuba before he found his way to freedom, moving to Mexico to pursue a singing career and four years later immigrating to Miami. Though it was hard for him to be away from his family—he recently reunited with them and was able to say goodbye to his father who passed away two months after arriving in the U.S.—he focused all his energy on becoming a designer, and now has a loyal clientele of Miami society ladies

Rey Ortiz
All passion and ego, this Puerto Rican native takes life by storm while  wearing short shorts; his impeccably tailored garments drip with sex appeal so it's no surprise that Rey, 32, calls "Sex and the City" his greatest inspiration.

Growing up gay and a Jehovah's Witnesses, he rebelled and said he will never blindly follow anyone again. Unable to come out to his mother, he's estranged from her, afraid of what he might say if he spoke his mind. Rey studied animation, drawing characters in flamboyant costumes, and soon realized his inner designer was trying to come out. He then took pattern-making courses at Carlota Alfaro College, and found a mentor in the 80-year-old founder, a woman who he calls his very own Tim Gunn.

Sam Donovan
This model-cute 23-year-old Parsons grad has fashion wisdom well beyond his years, and enough sass to fill a workroom.

Sam’s childhood was tense at best: Raised by wealthy, divorced parents in a dysfunctional all-American family, he bounced around all over suburban Boston. He was bullied in middle school before he even knew he was gay, but his mother came to his defense, helping him become the self-assured person he is today. Having just graduated from Parsons this past spring, he is now working out of his father's house in Massachusetts, counting the days until he can move back to NYC.

Shan Keith Oliver
Lovable and gregarious, Shan, 33, is the proud father of three. His creativity shines in designs that utilize fabrics he has on hand; he'll take anything and put a Shan spin on it.

From a family of talented kids, Shan competed to stand out and found his voice in art. After his father passed away, Shan's mother became the sole breadwinner, caregiver and seamstress. Self-taught as a designer, he learned from his mother how to look dress expensive without spending a lot. He's a bible-quoting Christian but don’t call him close-minded. He's friends with everyone and always has a good word to say, though he will give side-eye to a design he dislikes.

Stephanie Ohnmacht
If UTG were a sit-com, Stephanie, 37, would be the star. A control freak with perfect bangs, she designs quirky, feminine clothes with an eye for unique patterns and geometric designs.

Stephanie was raised on a working farm by strong, goal-oriented women, and her mother pushed her to always take first place. She started sewing at age seven and was making party dresses and wool suits for 4-H competitions when she was 12. She studied business, but took her sewing machine to college, teaching her classmates to make their own clothes. She applied for the PR in 2008, but Tim said 'No' and told her she needed to to sew faster. She's been practicing and is ready to compete!

And tonight, it’s on! Are you Under The Gunn?


BloggerJoe said...

I wondered if you were going to be reporting on this. The new season of Face Off on SyFy started this week, too.

Bob Slatten said...

I really can't get into Face Off, though I've enjoyed what I've seen, but Tim and Mondo and Anya and Nick?
i'm there!

the dogs' mother said...

We are so excited! They had us at 'Tim'. :-)

viktor kerney said...

Looks interesting

Mark in DE said...

I'm going to give this show a try tonight, but it sounds like just a slight variation on Project Runway, but using former contestants as judges. I hope its better than I'm imagining.