Rosemary Mac Cabe

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Gok Wan’s (very) brief guide to Irish fashion

Published in The Irish Times, Friday, March 4th, 2010 After a little encouragement Gok Wan, who has now diversified into designer specs, offers Irish women some swift style tips ON PAPER, Gok Wan – TV personality and stylist extraordinaire – …

Tue, Mar 8, 2011, 12:36

   

Published in The Irish Times, Friday, March 4th, 2010

After a little encouragement Gok Wan, who has now diversified into designer specs, offers Irish women some swift style tips

ON PAPER, Gok Wan – TV personality and stylist extraordinaire – is a dream interviewee, but things do not always go to plan. Notes are sent to the Irish PR dealing with the English PR dealing with Gok that include images of Ireland’s social scene and a clip from TV3’s Take Me Out , and a call is set up for Thursday at 5pm.

When that passes, it is rescheduled for Friday. Then Monday and, finally, Tuesday at 9.10am. At 9.17am, the phone rings. “Hello, darling!”

I tell him I want to talk about Irish style. There is a pause. “So, sorry darling, do you want to talk about glasses, or about style?” Something, it would seem, has been lost in translation but he soldiers on.

“My advice for Irish women is no different than it would be for women around the world – it’s about working with shape and proportion, getting to know your body, how it’s evolved, how you feel about certain parts and, I suppose, concentrating on the parts you don’t mind as much.” So far, so Gok.

Irish women love fake tan – what would he recommend?

“Fake tan is definitely better than sunbeds,” he says, wisely. “If it makes you feel better about yourself, by all means go for it.”

Does he ever wonder, when dealing with women with very low self esteem, if there’s too much of an emphasis on looks? “It’s a very emotional journey,” he says. “Different experiences affect how we see ourselves, different parts of our bodies. We only understand 20 per cent of our brains – the other 80 per cent is up for grabs. We can’t possibly turn around and say, ‘this pair of boots is going to sort out your life’.”

He talks a mile a minute and sounds vaguely bored by these familiar sound bites. I decide to move on to glasses in the hope that we can get back to Irish style in a while, when he is a little more relaxed.

Earrings and glasses – how can you make them work? “Sorry, I don’t understand the question.” I wear glasses, I tell him, and I feel, with earrings, there’s just too much going on. “It’s very subjective,” he counters. “There are no written rules . . . I’ve often styled women with glasses and earrings.” Right so.

Favourite celebrity specs wearers? “Alexa Chung . . . and Johnny Depp for the boys.”

What about glasses on the red carpet – why don’t we ever see them?

“There’s a huge stigma attached. When people go into evening wear, they assume they need to put their contacts in. For a long time there wasn’t a lot of choice. Obviously that’s changed now and, fingers crossed, the collection I’ve done allows people to have evening frames that are slightly more dressed up.” The first notes of enthusiasm creep into his voice when, suddenly and without warning: “Okay darling, I have to go, I’m being called to go on live now, bye!” It is 9.25am. Women of Ireland, your eight minutes endeth here.

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