Monday, May 14, 2007

tim gunn : emperor of his domain

from the Journal of Grown Men in Silly Costumes, aka House and Garden.

"Welcome to my opium den."
The mandarin in his dragon robe.
(I could swear this is a character from one of
E. F. Benson's Mapp and Lucia novels.

It has been a while since I've checked in over at
Blogging Project Runway but I'm glad I went to the site today because now can't stop giggling.

It all makes sense now. Tim Gunn has adopted the anglophilic mannerisms of the upperclass English; it is only natural that he would also have a longing for a return to the Age of Empire.

He's sort of a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Dorian Grey. They were both aesthetes with a sharp eye and an unsparing tongue. They were also characters "coded" as homosexual although not "out" per se. (Both of them also had a penchant for opium.)

At any rate, that photograph is awesome: is that not the expression of a man who is "pleased as punch"?? His smiling pink face is like the little occidental cherry on top of the layers and layers of orientalist cake.

And the pièce de résistance: the bow tie.

Oh, Tim. You slay me.

1. Click here to go to the House and Garden online article.
2. To see the large color pages of the article click here: page 1 and page 2

3. His robe is vintage Miao (Hmong). These are still affordable to more modest collectors (in the hundreds of dollars rather than hundreds of thousands dollars). However, as with most folk artists and native peoples the Hmong have been exploited by dealers and collectors. So if you do purchase their textiles, purchase from the Hmong themselves or ask the dealer if the profits have been shared with the Hmong people.
4. I'm fascinated by this (at right) 19th century Chinese portrait in Tim's apartment. It's stunning. I think that a closer examination would reveal an interesting interplay between western and eastern styles of dress and needlework (I'm especially interested in the millinary) but it is hard to tell from the photograph.
5. Further recommended reading: Sarah Cheang. "Selling China: Class, Gender and Orientalism and the Department Store." Journal of Design History Vol 20. No 1. 2007. 1-16. (If I have a chance I'll put it with my material in the art/design/fashion department.)