Tuesday, October 21

GOK me up, WAN me down

If I started this post talking about Specsavers many of you would have no idea what I am going on about. However, if I said Gok Wan many people out there would nod in acknowledgment. It turns out the two are strongly linked as Gok Wan is Specsavers' ambassador and both hosted an event at the Waldorf Hilton last night. But on the morning of that same day I also had the opportunity to have a chat with Mr. Wan about the event, his work, style and upcoming shows.

I was to meet him at 12.45 in a suite at the Waldorf Hotel. As I stood by the door uselessly trying to breathe in and out I could already hear his characteristic voice. I rang the bell and, to my surprise, a very tall very polished Gok Wan opened the door. He offered his hand while he greeted me about five times in the nicest way. I sorted out my stuff, tried once more to put myself together while he and his friend and assistant sneakily looked for the best spot to smoke —Malboro menthols. Room service came, took away a tray with empty cups of coffee for a troop and a few Starbucks as well. Finally, he sat down and dutifully apologised a few times only before asking me where I was from and what was I doing. Then, it was my turn. He is well-known for his TV shows filled with positivity —unlike, say, Trinny & Susannah's—, specially for "How to look good naked" where he takes rather hideous ladies and teaches them how to embrace thir beauty as it is by fitting them out with tips such as how to highlight their good body features and find silhouettes that fit them. His new show, "Miss Naked Beauty", promises to be as big a success by reviving the old beauty peagent contest and Gok-ing it up to find a confident, sexy and beautiful real woman that also has the brains to be Miss Naked Beauty 2008. The girls will go through challenges in which they will "confront the established perceptions of beauty". "Do you believe that women can actually reach a common ground between being fashionable and feeling great in their own skin?", I ask. "Absolutely, women should see the beauty in their bodies as they are", he concludes, "There was no need for photoshop when women had a little more flesh".

But Gok is mostly know for his style and styling work. I ask him to define his style and he momentarily loses his speech for the first time. He looks up at the ceiling trying to come up with something witty. "My style changes everyday, but if I had to choose I'd say rock'n'roll, although I don't like rock'n'roll music". Why rock'n'roll? "Cause it's hard and very sexual. The relationship between two people is what influences a person the most". But sexual is not the easiest to work with when you are a stylist. "Everything's always sexual, but sometimes it's hard 'cause you have your view but the client and the publicist also have theirs. It's also about the mood". Sex is of the utmost importance for Gok, no wonder, but someone that works with a number of different media, fashion companies and celebrities must surely look for inspiration elsewhere. He says everything inspires him, "old movies, music. And travelling. If I go to the East I will get inspiration, but also if I go to the West". Hence, the baggy jeans, black polo shirt and lumberjack jacket over a hoddie, "I also love skater, that sort of Midwest American. Preppy meets skater".

I try, unsuccessfully, to bring the conversation topic to my ground. How does Gok Wan stay up-to-date? I expected an elaborate answer and references to different sources but he simply says "I read loads of magazines" and stares at me in waiting for another question not knowing he just spoiled the next one that I ask anyway. Do you check cool-hunting or street style blogs? "No, 'cause I don't have time!" But he confesses to be a big fan of Japan street style, with all its layers and complex groups and mixed inspirations.

Working with celebrities surely allows him to have an insider scoop on how styles are forged. So who does Gok think are the style icons of the moment? Here he looks around the room, the fabulous art-deco orange walls, the veyr stylish arrangements of flowers. He is really going through his archives. "I don't think we have any!" He laughs and proceeds, "There is no one, really. There are no more Greta Garbos or Marlene Dietrichs!"

Getting deeper into the fashion world, I discover a much more intellectual Gok. Someone who knows very well what he is talking about and who seems to devote a good deal of time giving not-so-vanal things a thought. I want to hear what he has to say about fashion nowadays where people let fashion overshadow them while others, the few, focus on the so-called fashion forward. "I think everything's too much about fashion right now", a rather intriguing opinion coming from a stylist. "Fashion is supposed to make you feel good and glamurous. That's it" —as oposed to taking over yourself and being the important thing. He says he does not want to just own the new hot items coming down the catwalk, he is more interested in "why the heels are so high, why the hems are going up". We talk about young people and fashion, how clothes represent or not who we are. He believes "we are still there" when it comes portraying our social status, "but I don't think that the fact that you can spend thousands, like kids in Fulham, makes you well-dressed". However, it is not just the West he has something to say about. The East gets its part as well, "what those kids do up in Hoxton is not fashion". There is no trace of doubt in his face.

As our 20 minutes of interview come to a close I wonder what is next on Gok's crazy world. Look out for a coming season of "How to look good naked" next year, where some men styling will let everyone rejoice. But also standby for Gok Wan's very own clothing line, "It's in the works. I've been contacted by all the major high street shops but it's still in the works". He makes his flatmate confirm to me that sketches are pretty much wall paper in his flat. But I am still dubious, should we expect something à la Kate Moss? "No, nothing like that. I'm a control freak, so everything's gotta be perfect". It looks like there is going to be plenty of Gok for a while but in the meantime catch "Miss Naked Beauty" Tuesdays at 8 on 4.

[Pictures credit: Moi]

PS. My apologies. I did not intend to look as disgusting on that picture.

I'm off.


nur* said...

:) ouu yeah baby!!!!

The Socialite said...

CHEERS to you! What a neat opportunity! Although I have never heard of him, he seems quite intriguing.

Plus, you write so beautifully.

Mrs. Westwick (Sexy Beast) said...

Loving it!!!!!

Ray TETAUIRA said...

great idea dude !! i just love it !!

Pau said...

Great interview !!!
Love your blog

Char Ruiz Manjarrez said...

fun! But I have to say you look way better than him. Your shirt? hot


Coco's Tea Party said...

You're kind of matching what you're wearing though. ha ha.

Paul Pincus said...

this was fascinating.

great interview!

you're gorgeous...and i love love love the orange in the background.

cheers ; )

Myriam said...

How great wasn't this! And you look sweet! xx

Jen (MahaloFashion) said...

I'm loving the flanel your like a male marykate olsen!

M_O_S said...

bueno buenooooo.......very interesting i must say! enfin acabo d mpzar cn un blog yo tb...aver q t patecr =)

xcierto, hoy me acabo de comprar una camisa casicalcada a la tuya (de uniqlo tb vdd?:D)

Richarsson said...


NonchalantMod said...

i like what you're wearing and he sounds inspiring.

María said...

Thanks for the interview. I don't have the chance to read about him very often here.

M_O_S said...

te puedes creer k aun no la e visto???? enfin aver si ago un catching up de cine...k ando bstnt atrasado!

Gia said...

this is just great!
and you look very ok in the photo:)