May 18, 2022

Tim Gunn may have validated a rumor that has been circulating for months among Project Runway fans. In a letter to his longstanding “TV wife,” Heidi Klum, published by Good Housekeeping, the fashion genius revealed an intriguing detail about Project Runway’s origins.

Gunn, who served as a mentor to candidates on the Bravo and Lifetime fashion design competition series, wrote about how nervous he was during his first season on the program and how the supermodel “wrapped an arm” around him for comfort.

He continued in the same manner. “Later in that season, I got to return one of your many kindnesses and offers of support. This time you were nervous about how the show would be received,” he wrote. “You had shown a preview to so-and-so (another supermodel and host of another fashion-related show) who said to you, ‘It looks awful. Cancel the show and quit.’ This time, I took your hand, and we sat and huddled.”

He went on to say, “‘Think about it,’ I remember saying. ‘She’s nervous and jealous. You and this show are a competition for her. She wants to make you nervous and upset. Trust me. There’s nothing to be concerned about and everything to feel confident about.’ You leaned over and kissed me. And we had a fabulous season!”

There are indications that this unidentified model and television host may have been Tyra Banks. Project Runway started in 2004, and America’s Next Top Model, hosted by Banks, has been aired since 2003.

“Needless to say, ‘that other show’ became a big hit,” Gunn wrote in his letter, referring to Project Runway. “We made 16 seasons together! Remember the night of our Emmy win for cohosts? That show dragged on and on and on, with our category being second to last. At every break, we snuck out for champagne, lots of champagne. By the time the show finally got to our category, we were bombed — nervous, jittery, laughing bombed. WE WON!”

Tyra Banks representatives did not respond to EW’s request for comment.