Bad Economy, You Say? Tim Gunn, Zac Posen, and Mary Alice Stephenson Promote Hope

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Tim Gunn took a few cues from Barack Obama's platform of hope and change today when he moderated a panel discussion titled "Redefining the Rules of Fashion in Today's Economy" presented by the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund. "These are very trying times, but we need to pull through this," Gunn said to a packed room of fashion students at the Directors Guild of America. "And I think we will. But I think it will be a different time." Zac Posen, the only designer on the panel, agreed. "I've never faced this before. I have to step back. It's a great time to be creative. There's always room for great clothes."

Mary Alice Stephenson said she sees a transition in the works: "I think it won't be cool to look so fabulous all the time. I was in Target this weekend. There are things that go bling bling at every level." All of the panelists, which also included fit model Josh Button, Alex Gonzalez of ad agency AR New York, Macy's senior vice-president Les Steiger, and CEO of HSN Mindy Grossman, agreed that there is hope for the fashion industry, in a time when innovation is imperative.

On the way out, students chattered excitedly about how they left inspired. "It's just what I needed to hear," a young female student told us. "Everyone's talking about the economy, and they talked about passion." So, we asked, are you concerned about getting a job? "Yes, but I don't graduate this year. In a few more it'll be better, right?" Well, we can only hope.