William McComb, the new CEO of Liz Claiborne Inc, knew that his $5 billion company had lost its creative juice. He wanted a chief creative officer to put some meat on the bones of an atrophied design culture. The fact that Tim Gunn ran Parsons's prestigious fashion program -- the source of a good 70% of the designers on Seventh Avenue, from Anna Sui to Tom Ford -- was key. Whether McComb's hiring of Gunn in March 2007 was an act of desperation or inspiration is still unclear. Gunn has spent his first year trying to figure out exactly what is wrong with the company at the design level and devising a plan to rebuild morale among the 200 designers whose creativity had been bled dry by years of bottom-line pressure. Gunn's other critical role is talent acquisition. McComb knows that Gunn is the kind of guy who cares about his new company the way he did about his students -- he'll do anything for it.