Angela's Makeover

Angela shares her experience on Guide to Style.

Hello! It's been a whirlwind year, and I can't think of a better person to lead the way for me than Tim Gunn. I thought it would be fun to share with you the juicy behind-the-scenes details of filming the show and my experience with it!

How I got on Guide to Style

I saw a call for the show, and having never seen an episode, I didn't actually know that it was a makeover show. I just saw Tim Gunn's name and since, like a lot of women in America, I had a schoolgirl crush on him, I threw my hat in the ring. After the "audition" held in midtown Manhattan, I got cold feet. I wrote the talent agent, saying that I didn't feel like I was the right fit for the show and suggested some other women instead. She immediately wrote back and said that the producers liked the story of a concert pianist undergoing a major life transformation. She encouraged me to be open to the experience, so I took a deep breath and dove in.

First day of filming

The first day of filming was held in our apartment in uptown Manhattan. I was amazed at how they were able to transform 1000 square feet into a TV studio with about 40 people milling around. It was so much fun to see the producers and assistants with all of their equipment jammed into our second bedroom -- the size of some people's closets! Meeting Tim and Gretta was surreal. Tim's unassuming and humble demeanor and Gretta's warm spirit immediately struck me. I knew I was in good hands and was ready to get down to business! Off to a great start, right? Wrong. At about 11 AM, one of the producers pulled me aside and said that our co-op management was threatening to call the police because they didn't want the TV crew in our apartment building. Apparently, there was a misunderstanding between the production company and the co-op management about which papers were signed. And I was caught in the crossfire. For those who do not live in New York City, a co-op is a unique way of structuring the purchase of an apartment where you have a board that oversees building policies. Most often, the board members are your neighbors. You can't even imagine the drama that ensued! In one ear, I was hearing threats to call the police; and in the other ear, the producers were telling me that Gretta and Tim were waiting for me to start filming. In between takes of Tim telling me that baby doll dresses were a big no-no, I was running upstairs to my neighbor's home to respond to the management and trying to find a fast solution so they wouldn't get the police involved. This went on ALL DAY. To my knowledge, Tim and Gretta never found out about this. There was enough pressure to worry about! At about 8 PM, during the closet raid when they took all of my clothes, the police finally arrived and were stopped by a producer in the apartment building lobby. I knew that they were in the building while Tim and Gretta were taking my gowns, so, needless to say, I had a lot on my mind during that moment. I was told that the police left without incident. I guess they felt they had bigger fish to fry here in the city rather than try to bust Tim and Gretta for taking my clothes! Here are some random thoughts on the experience...

On Tim

Everyone always asks me what it was like to meet Tim Gunn. It seems that every woman has a crush on him! I still have to pinch myself to believe that I was styled by one of America's foremost fashion gurus. I couldn't quite put my finger on it at the time, but there was a striking familiarity about him. In hindsight, I realize that because he used to be a professor he reminded me of my dad, who was a math professor, and all of my piano professors with whom I had spent countless hours. On the one hand, I found the blunt criticism strangely comforting because, well, that's what professors do and that's what I was used to. On the other hand, it was overwhelming since I had felt that white heat all my life and needed a break from the intense scrutiny. I feel immensely fortunate to have met such a generous spirit who, as he says, is a "truth teller" with impeccable taste and style. Whenever a client tells me how polished I look, I utter thanks to Tim.

On Gretta

Gretta is the fun and supportive girlfriend that everyone should have. She is warm, wise, and intelligent. She has substance and style, and she understands a woman's psychological make-up. I have the utmost respect for her as a businesswoman, and I learned a lot as we all sat around gabbing in between takes.

On Ted

Ted Gibson is the sweetest person ever! I loved him from the moment I met him. He exudes extraordinary kindness, and he knows how to make a woman feel beautiful. I loved how I felt sitting in his chair, and I cannot sing his praises enough.

On Reem Acra

Reem's dresses are sheer art. The camera didn't pick up the architectural perfection and the fine details. Her studio felt like a gallery and her work is the kind that stirs emotion, giving one a reason to dream again. Her passion for life is simply contagious.

On my husband

Is my husband really as sweet and amazing as he comes across on the show? Yes! I think all of my friends and colleagues would agree that rarely have they met a more committed or supportive husband. We've been married for seven years, and I still feel the same way about him as I did on our wedding day. I'm the luckiest girl in the world to have him as my husband!

On dreaming

Since the show, one of the producers indirectly set us up with (owned by Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey), and Om Aroma, my skincare company, is the first and only luxury organic skincare brand that they carry. I used to always study eLUXURY when I was researching brands so it's an amazing dream come true for me! They have been extremely supportive and committed to our line and even attended the press event that you saw on the show. I used to dream of wearing gorgeous dress pants with a fitted silk charmeuse shirt, a classic Burberry coat, and well-heeled shiny shoes (made for wide feet, of course)! It represents something far beyond fashion--it's about feeling good in my body, loving life enough to get dressed up for it, and living out my dreams. To take a break from the piano for the first time in my life was something that I had also dreamed of since my early twenties. It took a decade to finally do it. More than anything, this whole experience gave me the strength, affirmation and knowledge that I was doing the right thing. Now I will concentrate on Om Aroma and will dedicate the same passion to it as I did to the piano. I can't think of a better--or more stylish--way than to have made that transition with Tim Gunn's Guide to Style! So, Tim, Gretta, and everyone at Bravo, here's to savoring life, making things happen, and having fun--all in a Burberry trench coat.

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Ariana's Makeover

Ariana shares the four major lessons she learned from Tim and Gretta.

You know when you go on a really amazing vacation, and you have so many incredible moments in a short period of time that it's hard to remember them all when people ask, "So how was it?" That is how my Tim Gunn experience felt. I've always wished I had a video record of some of my favorite memories (that's why I have all of those ridiculous videos from my senior year at BC!) so that I could come back to those moments any time and remember them exactly as they were. The funny thing about capturing every moment on camera though is that you can't forget anything! Luckily for me, the editing gods took some pity on me and certain moments that I hoped wouldn't be aired were left to litter the cutting room floor. But in the spirit of not taking myself too seriously, I'd like to share some embarrassing moments, lessons learned and just some fun behind the scenes stuff.

Lesson 1: Bra shopping on national TV is as terrifying as you think

After day one of shooting the producers told me we'd go lingerie shopping the next day. For some reason I imagined myself peeking out from behind a curtain saying, "This one's great!" or "I doooon't think so." Instead I found myself getting a pep talk in a dressing room in jeans and a bra about how it was just like wearing a bathing suit. In the producers' defense it really isn't a big deal (something I realize now), but at the time I was terrified. I remember saying, "I wouldn't wear a bathing suit on national TV!" So I went out the first time in my own bra and waited for the fallout. This is the part where most people would say, "and it really wasn't as bad as I thought it would be..." but that's not what happened. I went back into the dressing room and felt like my heart was beating out of my chest. Here I was in front of a crew of mostly men in my bra. Add to that the knowledge that everyone in my past and present would be seeing me in my bra on national TV. It probably wasn't until the third bra that I let myself remember that this was Tim Gunn's show and Tim is nothing if not classy. So I relaxed a little bit and just went with it, and it ended up not being as bad as I thought it would be. Luckily they cut the scene with the flower petal nipple covers and semi-transparent bra (thank you Bravo editors), and at the end of the day I looked like me. What was best about the experience was how it made me open up and be more comfortable with myself. But I can't escape the thought that too many people I know have DVR or TiVo to make this a moment I'll be able to quickly forget.

Lesson 2: If you're not a supermodel, don't try to walk like one.

When I was asked to select which couture dress I wanted, I had trouble deciding. Part of me wanted to go for a more modest, traditional style so that I could wear it more often, while another part said break out of your shell and pick something fun! In the end, when the producers saw which one I picked, I don't think they really believed it. I was so proud of myself for picking something that you aren't going to find on a rack somewhere (although I did see some celebrity wearing it in a magazine, which was pretty cool). So when I put it on right before walking the runway for Tim, Gretta, my friends and family, I told a producer that I wanted to "do the dress justice." So I planned on not smiling and doing my best supermodel/runway walk. The tough thing about pretending to be a runway pro when you never wear heels suck at it. So I walk out, no smiling, doing my best Heidi impression (sorry I had to go there.) A few steps into the walk, I feel my heel slip, and while I avoid actually falling, I do fall out of my shoe. At that point there's still a pretty big distance between the finish line (read: Tim and Gretta) and me. So I do a sort of semi-limp, kind of like when you try on heels and only have one on but walk to a mirror to get a better look (I hope I'm not the only one who does this.) Thanks once again to the magic of editing and a second take on my walk, you never saw it.

Lesson 3: Don't ever say "I lost my bra" on national TV.

I guess every bad part I hoped would be cut wasn't going to be, and this line is proof. Yes, I have gone swimming in the Meyer Circle fountain after a fun night out in Brookside, but it's always in my clothes! To be totally honest, I have no idea what happened to my strapless. I did have this one roommate in college who would mysteriously show up after a summer break with certain articles of my clothing that had "somehow ended up in her bag" (you know you are) - maybe she has it. Unfortunately, there's not a lot of time for personal asides and those that create a little mystery are kept. So all I will say is that I now have a strapless and for those who know me, they understand that me losing something, even a bra, is not the most farfetched thing to imagine.

Lesson 4: Always, Always, Always trust Tim and Gretta.

I had never seen an episode of this show when I signed up to do it, so I had no idea what to expect. While this made things more exciting, it also required me to really trust everyone on the production team including Tim and Gretta. I knew they wanted me to look my best, feel great and take some lessons with me, but I could never have imagined how warm they were going to be as people. It was with a bit of reluctance that I talked about having to keep old clothing because of a lack of money growing up. I didn't want to be that sob story girl - so I sort of refused to talk about it. Gretta pushed me to open up, and once I did, she shared her own experience, which was similar to my own. It never felt like the big violin soundtrack movie moment, and I think it was the first time in the process I remember not noticing the cameras and just feeling like I was having a conversation with a close friend. I don't know if he's just a flatterer, but I don't think there was a better moment than when Tim said, "Ariana, you're breathtaking." You always imagine someone saying that to you, but you never think it's going to be someone who has such a trained eye. Throughout the week, anytime I made a self-deprecating comment, Tim was right there to remind me of the assets I have that I shouldn't ignore. I'm not perfect, and of course some of my insecure areas aren't fun to focus on, but Tim was all about focusing on the parts of yourself that are great and maximizing them. So at the end of the day, I learned a lot. I truly have a totally different perspective on shopping. I spend more on fewer quality items, and in turn I have a confidence in myself that was definitely missing when I hid behind the tattered old clothes from my past. Sometimes I still feel like it never really happened because it was so indescribably fun, emotional, informative and exciting. Then I hear a preview on TV with Tim's voice saying he needs a tetanus shot before entering my closet and it all comes back again.

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