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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...
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.
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.
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!
Since the show, one of the producers indirectly set us up with eLUXURY.com (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.