‘I love the sen­si­tiv­ity, hon­esty & hu­mour of women’

Our fave fash­ion guru, Gok Wan, gives us an in­sight into his life and loves, and shares some fail­safe style ad­vice

Prima (UK) - - Welcome -

TV pre­sen­ter and stylist Gok Wan shares his pas­sion for fash­ion

Stylist and TV pre­sen­ter Gok, 42, is adding an­other string to his bow: this au­tumn, he’s on a na­tion­wide the­atre tour with his re­veal­ing and hi­lar­i­ous one-man show, Gok: Naked And Bar­ing All. Raised in Le­ices­ter, he’s the son of an English mother and a Chi­nese fa­ther. He is sin­gle and lives in Lon­don.

My fash­ion ca­reer has re­volved around women. I was al­ways bored with the ‘shirt and trousers’ idea of styling men. But be­ing able to get un­der the skin of a woman, to dress her and watch her change and feel fab­u­lous, is an amaz­ing gift and a real plea­sure. I found it very hard to let go of the women af­ter my TV se­ries How

To Look Good Naked. By the end of it, it was as though I had a whole foot­ball team of women in my head and I was at­tached to ev­ery one of them. I think I’d make a good coun­sel­lor. I never judge any­one, I’m never shocked and I gen­uinely like peo­ple. I hope all of that will come across in my new stage show, too.

I was at the height of my eat­ing prob­lems dur­ing How To Look Good Naked. I was un­der­weight and mas­sively con­trol­ling what I ate, but I was too afraid to own up in case I lost my job. I now see so much of the em­pa­thy I had for my women came about pre­cisely be­cause I knew ex­actly what they were go­ing through. If I’d been per­fectly okay, we’d have had a very dif­fer­ent show.

I much pre­fer fe­male to male com­pany. I love the sen­si­tiv­ity, hon­esty and hu­mour of women. They’re more on my wave­length. It’s why I have so many more fe­male friends than males.

I only found the con­fi­dence to do a live show quite re­cently. When I turned 40, some­thing hap­pened: I sud­denly stopped car­ing about what every­body thought of me. Now my con­fi­dence is at an all-time high – I’m ready to go on stage and tell it ex­actly as it is with­out blushes, self-doubt or feel­ing the need to cen­sor my­self. I in­tend to talk about ev­ery­thing, from my work to my eat­ing dis­or­ders, with re­la­tion­ship stuff and be­ing a gay, sin­gle man thrown in.

The stage show won’t be dull. There’ll be lots of laughs, too, and sto­ries about the wild and won­der­ful things that have hap­pened in my life. I’m a mag­net for colour­ful peo­ple and vivid ex­pe­ri­ences. I still run my life in a child­like way – if there’s any­thing go­ing on that’s a lit­tle bit naughty and re­ally shouldn’t be hap­pen­ing, you can prob­a­bly find me at the cen­tre of it all. I get it from my fa­ther, who’s a very naughty 76-year-old, go­ing on 16.

My life has turned out in un­ex­pected ways. I should have been de­liv­er­ing prawn crack­ers for my dad’s take­away Chi­nese restau­rant un­til I was 70. But, some­how, one day the plan­ets aligned and I saw a lit­tle tiny win­dow of es­cape in the form of ap­ply­ing to drama school, and later a ca­reer in fash­ion. I jumped not know­ing what floor I was on or how far I might fall. My life would be com­pletely dif­fer­ent if I hadn’t.

There is love in abun­dance in my fam­ily. It means that, if nec­es­sary, I can pick up the phone, or visit, or, at times, scream for love and it’s al­ways there. Mostly, that’s a won­der­ful thing, al­though it can be suf­fo­cat­ing and it can also stop you work­ing to re­solve things. I think that some­times it might be bet­ter not to have that safety blan­ket.

I grew up with an el­der brother and sis­ter in a bustling house­hold. It was also full of ‘cousins’ – any­one in Le­ices­ter who looked a lit­tle bit Asian! They would flock to our house where my mum would give them cud­dles and noo­dle soup, and my dad would tell them off. It was a won­der­ful, warm sort of up­bring­ing.

I was se­ri­ously bul­lied as a child and as a teenager. I was tar­geted for be­ing over­weight, half Chi­nese and gay. It gave me greater em­pa­thy, not just for the bul­lied but, in time, for the bul­lies them­selves. I had to get in­side their heads, and I realised they’re not the hap­pi­est peo­ple. In some ways, I felt sor­rier for them than I did for my­self.

When I per­form my show, I want my mum and dad to be in the au­di­ence. But maybe not at one of the first few shows. Th­ese will be raw, ex­cit­ing and on the edge, and I’d rather they see it when I feel more in con­trol of the ma­te­rial. In the end, I’ll be re­veal­ing things even they don’t know. It will be the most un­dressed I’ve been in front of them since I was a baby. It’s not called Naked And Bar­ing All for noth­ing!

Gok’s tour kicks off in Nor­wich on 30 Oc­to­ber. For tick­ets, visit gok­wan.com

‘When I turned 40, I stopped car­ing what every­body thought about me’

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