TODAY | July 19, 2013
>>> if you love fashion, you are probably a fan of the popular show " project runway " which just kicked off its 12th season. it features 16 aspiring fashion designers vying for a prize package worth over $500,000. changes their life forever.
>> guess what?
>> tim gunn is back as co-host and mentor and taking on a bigger role. take a look.
>> here they are up close and personal.
>> i want to see the pink because i be it's interesting she layered this twice.
>> a tremendous struggle yesterday morning. and i thought i was walking into a disaster. and when i walked up to this, i thought, this looks like bergdorf's window.
>> wow, fancy.
>> a whole new thing where they can touch it and, by the way, you look smashing.
>> as do the two of you.
>> we dressed up for you -- dressed down a little bit.
>> we're kind of glad we have you here. there's a little breaking news about you. you, congratulations, yesterday, were nominated for an emmy award .
>> it's surreal.
>> for hosting the show. what did you think when you heard the news?
>> i was numb and, frankly, i still am numb. i can't quite believe it. i can't quite wrap my brain around it. hi heidi is the star.
>> it would not be the show without the two of you.
>> we're a great team. i love and adore her.
>> tell us about -- we talked about your new role. how has it evolved from what people are used to seeing?
>> they are used to seeing me with the designers in the work room and then i disappear and don't reappear until i have to tell someone to go to the work room and clean up their space. even though i'm there for the duration of the runway walk and the judges' q&a with the designers and the judges deliberation. so the producers said let's bring him out. let's have him actually sit and watch the runway show with the judges and then i do disappear but then i come back after the q&a with the designers who created the top three looks and the bottom three looks. i come back with the models. we descend the runway steps to the judges. right there in front of their chairs. the judges get to feel the textiles.
>> that's made a huge difference. you can't really see the detail and stuff at that distance.
>> but kathie lee , it threw me off because i'm so used to saying to the designers, don't worry about that detail. the judges don't get any closer than 25 feet. well, now, one of the top looks in a future challenge, the judges are looking at the garment up close. they find two pins in it. no more top.
>> oh, that's tragic.
>> the designer didn't go home, but i was able to --
>> whoa. what happens to the winners of -- your past winners. do they go on to great careers?
>> it's a good question. i'm so proud of them, but how far they can go after the show really depends upon their ambitions and their financial resources. and that varies.
>> somebody usually has to back them.
>> exactly. and i will say since the economy is healing and repairing, i have a huge amount of optimism about where they can now go but for the last four years they've really been held back by the fact, how much room is there for a new brand out there?
>> i want to know how this has changed your life.
>> oh, my god.
>> you were not a household name until this happened.
>> and i was a very happy educator for 20 years. i was chair of the fashion department at parsons. i don't think it gets better than that when it comes to education in fashion. it was after i turned 50 this phenomenon presented itself. and i never dreamed there would be a season 2 , let alone season 12 .
>> oh, this will go forever.
>> i mean, people do ask me how long can this go on. i think about it being analogous to teaching. every semester, i was re-energized and reinspired. and the -- my students took me places i never dreamed i could go. i mean --
>> but it shows that you genuinely care about these people.
>> i do.
>> good luck with the show and with the emmy.
>> and happy birthday .
>> we are both going to be 40 in a couple of weeks.
>> you can catch " project runway " thursday nights on lifetime.