NEW YORK – Did the YMA Scholarship Fund’s annual AMY awards dinner last month play matchmaker for Tim Gunn and Liz Claiborne?
It certainly seemed that way Thursday when Gunn, the host-mentor of television’s Project Runway, was appointed to the new post of chief creative officer of Liz Claiborne, effective March 5.
He will report directly to William McComb, chief executive officer of the company, and be responsible for “attracting, retaining and developing the creative talent” within the company.
Gunn hosted the AMY dinner, and McComb was on hand as Karen Murray, a group president at Claiborne, received her AMY award along with J.C. Penney’s Ken Hicks and dancer/actress/TV judge Paula Abdul.
“Words cannot express how happy we are to have Tim on board as our ‘Creative Dean,’” McComb said in a statement. “His mission is twofold: return our culture to one that is friendlier to the creative process and help shape more competitive, consistent and compelling product.”
Gunn has been with Parsons The New School for Design in New York since 1982 and chair of its department of fashion design since 2000. He’s served as mentor to the design talent on the Bravo reality television show Project Runway since 2004. Later this year, Bravo will broadcast Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style based on his forthcoming book.
“Though this is not something I had envisioned for myself,” Gunn said, “I jumped at the chance to serve as a mentor, advisor and sounding board for the design and merchandising community within Liz Claiborne Inc.”
McComb emphasized that Gunn’s job will not be to serve as a “master editor” as all brands within its portfolio will continue to have “full control of the brand positioning and product design.”
“Rather, Tim will be a spokesperson for the creative community,” McComb continued, “a champion of product innovation, integrity and exceptional price-value and a catalyst for the creation of the irresistible product our consumers want and deserve. He is also charged with creating systems to further develop our creative community and scouting the market for great talent.”
The CEO added that Gunn’s new colleagues at Claiborne “fully support” his Bravo projects.
The appointment is the second in as many days for McComb as he begins to fill the shoes left by the retirement of Paul Charron. On Wednesday, Michael Scarpa was promoted to chief operating officer of the company.