Thursday, June 21, 2007

Homosexual gowns by Adrian

A while back, I received a response here from Howard Gutner, author of Gowns by Adrian: The MGM Years 1928-1941 about my ten fave Joan Crawford dresses post. I had stated that he stupidly ignored Adrian's homosexuality in his book. But I decided that the implications of his response were too important to leave in the comments section and that they needed a rebuttal. So I've reproduced his comment here:

"I'm Howard Gutner, the author of Gowns by Adrian, the person who so "stupidly" ignored Adrian's homosexuality. If you'll note the title of the book, it's Gowns by Adrian: The MGM Years 1928-1941. It's NOT a biography, or a look at his private life, but an examination of his WORK at MGM.

Got it?"

Yeah, Howie, I got it. So perhaps I should have replaced "stupidly" with "homophobically."

First off, if the book was not a biography nor a look at his private life, then one wonders why Gutner felt compelled to mention Adrian's marriage to Janet Gaynor (p. 191) which, by the way, was a marriage of convenience as Gaynor was gay too. Second, cordoning off one sphere of life as public and another as private is one of the oldest homophobic tricks in the books. Not only does it ignore how sexualized work environments are; it also suggests that nothing of sexuality goes into work. A very good book could have been written about how Adrian's homosexuality impacted his designs. But unfortunately, Gutner decided that that book would have been a bit too heavy for America's coffee tables.

And really, folks, at the end of the day, could a heterosexual man have created THESE:

I thought not.


Blogger stuart said...

I agree with John, not to mention Adrian's sexuality is like ignoring the sexuality of any artist such as Benjamin Britten, Oscar Wilde or Caravaggio and their work as an expression of this. It also denies positive role models for young people to celebrate the contribution of gay men and women. It's a shame that such a well researched and beautifully illustrated book should fail to skim the surface. Shame.

5:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could you please find out if there are any biography books on Hein Heckroth,the art director of the 1948 movie The Red Shoes.I read that he was married to another artist whose first name was Ada and that they had 3 children.By the way you should be reading the book,Behind The Screen,Hollywoods Gay And Lesbian influence or something like that,talk about naming names,wow!

2:40 PM  
Anonymous Short Left Index Finger said...

people with short left index fingers date women and people with short right index fingers date men.Tell all of your gay friends.

11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Find out if there are any books on Jaques Fath and his lesbian wife Gienevive.He designed the clothes for Moira Sheirer in the 1948 movie.The Red Shoes.

12:36 PM  
Anonymous Snikdar said...

Howard Gutner gave the answer that was justly merited. There is no credible evidence that Adrian was gay, just the gossip presented in books by gay writers with an axe to grind. There is also no evidence that Janet Gaynor was gay other than gossip by Robert Cummings. Gayness does NOT always show up in work - how would one tell the work of a gay doctor? Car mechanic? Construction worker? Military general? The premise is flawed. Gay youth does deserve good role models. Spreading unsupportable gossip is not one of them. Adrian apparently did have effeminate behavior patterns, but that does not guarantee gayness. Any author worth a damn won't say something they can't prove and that's the way it should be. I am gay and no one else's sexuality improves my life, only I can do that.

7:22 PM  

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