Taryn Zhang
                  New York

Taryn Zhang on Facebook Taryn Zhang on Pinterest Taryn Zhang on Twitter        

Briefcases & Handbags for the Corporate Professional
Taryn's Design Diary

           PRESS           MEDIA           SHOP ONLINE


While the designer behind this label was teaching herself how to sew and reading textbooks on fashion design, certain family members discouraged her and kept telling her not to bother with the business and to have a baby instead. "It's time," they kept saying, as if the only reason in the world to have babies is because "it's time." The designer was at that age when parents yearned to be grandparents and so they would nag her incessantly about baby-making. Being the obedient, good daughter / daughter-in-law that she is (smirks), she did conceive a baby in compliance with their request: a corporate baby, that is. The business of Taryn Zhang was born!

The baby needed a name. To really drive home the point that this was her baby now, the designer named the company as she would a daughter. "Taryn" had always been a girl's name she liked and "Zhang" is her husband's family name. Taryn Zhang, she declared. There you all go! A baby! And it's a girl. Taryn is derived from “tender” in Scots Gaelic, “of the earth” in Latin, and “youthful” in Sanskrit. It was a name that had roots in both Western and Eastern culture, just like her, the designer.

To pay homage to her Taiwanese roots, the designer decided to give the brand a Chinese name. In Mandarin, the brand would be called 妲婨 (pronounced: dá lún), a transliteration of “Taryn.” That's "" pronounced like "dominance" or "dahlia." And to pronounce "lún" just say "loo-in" very fast.

妲 (pronounced: dá) is reminiscent of 妲己 (pronounced: da jee; English: Daji), a concubine who eventually became empress of the Shang Dynasty. While history remembers her as a legendary beauty, history also characterized this woman as a villainess. One cannot help but wonder had the texts been written from a different point of view, what would herstory be?

Some renderings depict Daji as a sorceress or demonic witch with magical powers. Tall tales and legends of her portray a woman who ate the eyeballs of people she tortured, who engaged in debauchery, who was really a nine-tailed fox disguised as a woman to dupe the emperor, and who seduced the Shang head of state into corruption
. In sum, she has been painted as a horrible specimen of a woman.

The characterization of Daji the historic figure is intriguing. The vilification of her is so outrageous, so extreme, that one is hard-pressed to believe any of it. What’s more, an interesting detail of her narrative is rarely included in the popular telling of her story: The Shang emperor murdered her father, who was a duke of the court. After the emperor killed Daji's father, he made Daji his concubine. One cannot help but deduce there might be a plot for revenge. What girl could possibly be thrilled about becoming the concubine of a man who just murdered her father in cold blood? From there, Daji must have taken matters into her own hands, because she managed to oust the sitting empress and she became empress herself.

There is a good chance that Daji was unfairly portrayed and was never the villainess that the Chinese characterize her to be.  She may have been an unusually strong-willed, confident woman for her era. And for that she became an easy scapegoat to blame for the fall of the Shang dynasty. More likely than the eyeball-eating nine-tailed fox stories, Daji was just a woman too strong and too confident for the comfort of her society. Her peers certainly must have felt threatened by Daji's beauty and power.

Even today in contemporary society, people remain unforgiving of alluring, authoritative women. It must have been tenfold worse in the times of Daji. In a tribute to women like Daji whose names and reputations may have been slandered unfairly because their strength, confidence, beauty (inner and outer), and power were too intimidating, Taryn Zhang New York is named in part after Daji.

The second character in the Chinese name, 婨 (pronounced: lún) is not a frequently-used word in the modern Chinese lexicon, but was used in ancient times as a female name. The word holds as its root 侖 (also pronounced: lún), a word that connotes intellect, discourse, and logical reasoning. Juxtaposed with the root 女 (pronounced: nŭ), which means woman, 婨 is the perfect exemplification of Taryn Zhang’s ideology.

Plus, the designer's mommy came up with the name
妲婨 (dá lún), so it's also sentimental.

READ MORE:        company herstory           brand & design theory

           TERMS OF USE           CONTACT