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The Daily Wildcat


REVIEW: Tim Gunn and the Poetry of Fashion

Noor Haghighi
Tim Gunn gives designers and their models a final applause at the Poetry of Fashion event in Centennial Hall on Oct. 11. The poetry used to motivate these looks were excerpts from translated pieces written in languages taught in the College of Humanities.

On Oct. 11 in Centennial Hall, I had the pleasure of attending the College of Humanities “Tucson Humanities Festival” featuring Tim Gunn and University of Arizona student designers. The evening was delightful as it focused on a poem each student received, a unique design they illustrated through their piece and an insight from the Emmy Award-winning television personality, Tim Gunn

Gunn carried himself in an elegant and graceful manner, making it easy to create an honest connection with the audience. The 13 UA student designers displayed inspiring views on poetry as they all delivered an authentic take on their respective poems.

At the event, the audience was greeted by the Dorrance Dean for the College of Humanities, Alain-Philippe Durand, who quickly introduced the topic of discussion, “The Poetry of Fashion.” A video demonstrated on the screen centered on the stage portrayed young models wearing the pieces each designer crafted. Uniquely, the video had a voiceover of each designer when their model and work of art came on the screen. 

This was an interesting take, as the audience was introduced to the poem and design from the beginning. Interestingly enough, it took me by surprise when the video finished and each designer entered the room alongside their model, as it brilliantly captured their pieces for the people in attendance. Finally, Gunn entered the room after each designer made their way to the seats, resulting in a warm welcome from the audience.

The conversation between Gunn and the students was captivating. Every now and then, there would be parts in the event when Gunn would be asked questions by one of the three moderators on stage, which consisted of Sarah Kortemeier, the associate librarian for the University of Arizona, Mia Roig, a marketing intern and UA student designer and Stephanie Rehwaldt, a UA student designer. 

The conversation consisted of either one of the 13 pieces crafted by the respected designers to more personal questions centered around risk-taking and Gunn’s individual advice. The beloved television personality received praise throughout the event for his passionate responses from the audience. As the event came to an end, it shed light on the importance of risk-taking and being comfortable with being uncomfortable when participating in new endeavors. 

After the event, I spoke to people in the audience and two of the designers. Katherine Meade, a UA student studying natural resources, thought, “I really liked it. I’ve watched him on ‘Making the Cut’ and have always admired him and fashion […]. I really enjoyed the show,” she said. 

Meade’s response was quite common, as many people truly enjoyed their time at the theater that evening. 

When seeing the pieces of work come to life, from screen to person, I felt designers Ava Stroessner and Audrey Fitzgerald created their pieces in a way that united poetry and modern fashion the best. Luckily, I was able to have a quick conversation with both designers. 

Stroessner, alongside her model, Brianna Pioth, were both gushing at the fact that they were able to illustrate such work that evening. 

“That was amazing. It was such an amazing opportunity and I am blessed to have been able to be a part of this. To not only be able to see my design truly come to life but to also get remarks from Tim Gunn was incredible,” Stroessner said.

“This is absolutely beautiful. She’s my best friend and is absolutely an artist; this is a work of art,” Pioth said.

Fitzgerald, whose poem was based around a piece of literature called “Anna Ventura,” captured a modern take on old and mismatched objects in order to create her final piece of work. 

“It felt so amazing. I was quite nervous at first as I was worried [about] what he was going to think about the outfit, but afterward, I felt relieved,” Fitzgerald said.

The designers, all given around three weeks to complete their work, quickly brainstormed on several ideas. 

“This outfit came together last minute. I had so many ideas, but finally, I decided on this […]. I was really looking into Vivienne Westwood models and Versace for my inspiration,” Fitzgerald said.

Overall, the designs were captivating, the audience was respectful and Gunn was fabulous. 

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