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Guest Strategist Haul: What Tim Gunn Bought in April

Photo: James Devaney/WireImage/Getty

Every month, the Strategist editors do their version of a haul blog, jibber-jabbering about their favorite purchases of the last four weeks. To get that same personality and taste insight (via receipts), we’re inviting interesting friends of the Strat to run down their own buys. For this installment of the Guest Strat Haul, style adviser and Project Runway co-host Tim Gunn on his purchases for the last month.

Many people tend to think that I walk around my apartment in a suit and tie and may even go to bed wearing such. Not to disappoint, but when I’m home, I live in a bathrobe (as I am at this moment). Consequently, my robe experiences a lot of wear and tear. So I return to the same item over and over: the Nordstrom-brand thermal knit-cotton-blend robe in navy or charcoal. I alternate.

I’m a book addict, so a bookstore to me is like catnip to a cat. Among my favorite bookstores in NYC are the Strand in the Village and Book Culture at 112th and Broadway. But my Upper West Side Barnes & Noble is just a short walk from my apartment, so I frequent it the most, as in once a week or more. The political climate of late has caused me to immerse myself in books about the ascension and ultimate fall of the Roman Empire. I can’t get enough, especially by Adrian Goldsworthy and Mary Beard. Yesterday at Barnes & Noble, I stumbled upon Mike Duncan’s book about “the beginning of the end of the Roman Republic.” I can’t wait to begin reading — tonight!

This fascinating and lavishly illustrated book is the catalogue to the stunning special exhibit that opened this month at the Met. This staggeringly comprehensive exhibit chronicles what it was like to visit the seat of the French monarchy during the reigns of Louis XIV, XV, and XVI. The catalogue is a gorgeous enhancement.

I always say that if I weren’t in fashion, I’d be in interiors. That means I am constantly inspired to spruce up and change around the décor in my home. My latest project was switching around some of the wall décor leading up my staircase, so I picked up Command Picture Hanging Strips to hang the frames. Since I regularly change things up, I always use Command because they don’t leave any holes in my walls, which allows me to change and rearrange as often as I need. But I keep them up. I’ve yet to have one have any sort of fatigue.

Two-and-a-half years ago, at age 62, I became a fencing enthusiast. No one was more surprised by this onset of jock-mania than I, because fencing, or any sport for that matter, wasn’t even in my vocabulary. I met the dynamic and inspirational three-time Olympian and silver medalist Tim Morehouse who had just opened a fencing club. One visit was all that it took for me to proudly become his oldest student. This new mask has a removable — and therefore washable — lining, unlike my former mask. During lessons, but especially during bouts, one sweats like Niagara Falls. You can imagine what happens to a lining that can’t be removed. It isn’t pretty. It’s a petri dish.

I was looking for a candle because I was having a big reception for Fencing in the Schools, which is the not-for-profit that’s associated with my fencing club. In fact, it was Saturday a week ago. I am not a candle guy, but when I have guests, I believe that a subtle scent in the apartment is an elegant touch. At the same time, I’m very particular about what the scent is and the aesthetic of the candle. When I saw this porcelain chinoiserie-style candle, I was instantly smitten. It’s a beautiful object and looks as though it’s been in my possession for years; furthermore, the hydrangea scent is a salve for the nose. I’m so lucky to have this gorgeous terrace, and I have hydrangeas on it, and I’m just addicted to the smell, the aroma. There’s something simultaneously pungent and sweet and relaxing; it’s a bit like lavender.

I work with fitness trainer Jason D’Amelio twice a week. Thanks to his fine work — and patience — I’ve never felt better, stronger, and more agile. Only occasionally do we work with weights (dumbbells or kettlebells), but when we do, Jason recommends wrist wraps for extra “just in case” support. I’ll admit to being a “just in case” kinda guy.

I am a SuitSupply fan and loyalist (no, they don’t pay me to say that). I love the cuts, the textiles, and the affordability. I “suit up,” so to speak, twice a year. I’ve been working with Joe Strider at the Soho flagship for years now. He pulls the product that he knows I’ll like, and we have an afternoon of fitting. One of the things I’m most excited about this season is this great rowing blazer. Do you know the whole legacy of rowing blazers, that they’re associated with a particular club? It’s a bit like having a family tartan. This one is blue with white stripes, and it’s smashing. It looks very modern, but you can tell it has a several hundred-year legacy.

I am a fanatic on the topic of Timothy Richards and his architecturally correct plaster models. I was a huge architecture buff as a kid, and I’ve always been interested in the history of architecture, and in particular, Palladian architecture. A lot of what Timothy Richards reproduces is Palladian. I have the Lincoln Memorial. I have the front doors of the White House, which I used to revere when the Obamas were there, and now I want to turn it to the wall. I have the Radcliffe Camera, the library at Oxford. I have the doors to the Victoria and Albert Museum, Jane Austen’s house, and a couple of other follies and gatehouses. This model of the Casino on the Marino Estate in Dublin is the 16th in my collection. It’s big, it’s probably 14 by 14 by 10, and it weighs a ton. But it was on sale, 90 percent off. I couldn’t believe nobody wanted it. Maybe I didn’t put the price in because the price is a little off-putting. I’ll be blunt with you: It was $12,000, reduced to $1,200. It’s one of a kind. There’s always room for more.

Editor’s note: The exact model Tim bought this month isn’t available for purchase, since it is one of a kind, but you can buy a model of Jane Austen’s house, also a part of his collection, for just $150.

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Guest Strategist Haul: What Tim Gunn Bought in April