Fab fashion fiasco

Tim Gunn-led makeover show fits comfortably with wit, style

By Chris Azzopardi

'Tim Gunn's Guide to Style'

B+

10 p.m. Sept. 6 on Bravo

Rebecca's a total fashion fiasco. Wearing jeans that hug her voluptuous hips. Swimming in primary-colored shirts that a middle school girl has a slim chance of looking suave in. Sporting a stringy mane that resembles Alanis Morissette during her bitchy ex-boyfriend days.

Sure, things could be worse with some butterfly barrettes to decorate Rebecca's 'do. But thankfully, Tim Gunn and fashion accomplice Veronica Webb swoop in to save her from looking like the tasteless sweet soul who sits in the corner of the classroom.

On "Tim Gunn's Guide to Style," premiering at 10 p.m. Sept. 6 on Bravo, the fashion pundit whips out his mental fashion recipe book - covering everything from style coaching to confidence boosting to (woo-hoo!) shopping - and grants fashion-challenged women one wish: To look like they're walking the red carpet. Or at least walking through something other than an elementary-school playground.

Anyone who's ever watched "Project Runway" knows getting advice from Gunn is like taking tips from a close friend or family member; he's a respectable go-to fashion expert who's like having a gay dad. He's even got those telling facial expressions (the droopy oh-no-she-didn't look) and witty one-liners. The show's brimming with metaphors - Gunn compares Rebecca, an insecure girlish woman who wears oversized outfits to cover her curves, to Auntie Em (a comparison only a gay guy would use) - and some tension between the paternal-like pro and Webb swells during a leggings debate.

The two fashion sharks sift through Rebecca's messy closet, separating items into several piles and, sadly but not-so-surprisingly, the "keeper" heap is the dinkiest. So, what does that mean? Shopping time!

Webb and her Valley Girl project - who like totally shields her like face with her hands and OMG's at just about every compliment she's given (like when a lingerie expert says, "You've got a great ass") - look at clothing. Like kids in a candy store (who are buying the whole store), the two try to fulfill Gunn's essential style list: basic black dress, day dress, classic white shirt, etc.

"Tim Gunn's Guide to Style," based on his fashion counseling book released in May, succeeds in the steps it takes to do a 180 on a woman. Broken up into chapters - like "Shape and Silhouette," which turns Rebecca into a paper doll, and "Coaching," wherein a life stylist boosts her spunk by making her strut in a garbage bag - Bravo's new reality program is a deftly-hosted, highbrow makeover show that fits comfortably.

The show's grand finale is, like any other fashion do-over show, almost predictable: ugly duckling gets swan treatment in time for landmark event (in this case, a trip to Mexico with her hubby). Tim Gunn, though, adds an Oprah touch to the ending which, during the pilot episode, yielded happy tears from Rebecca's family members and both of the hosts. OK, I won't lie. I cried, too. But just a little.

Chris Azzopardi is the entertainment editor of Between The Lines. To reach him, send an e-mail to chris@pridesource.com.

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