By, Phyllis McLeish

Gok Wan, fashion stylist, tv presenter, celebrity cook, author and all round good guy visited   Ayrshire this September. I was lucky enough to catch up with the amazing Gok when he brought his Fashion Brunch Club to Enterkine House. Gok launched the Fashion Brunch Club events for Spring/Summer 2017 to offer support to small, local fashion retailers and provide a fun and informative day out for all those fashionistas out there. He certainly delivered that.

When I arrived a few hours before the brunch was due to start Gok and his team were just finishing a fairly chaotic dress rehearsal but the atmosphere was buzzing and there was a palpable air of excitement. Enterkine House was already filling up with early bird brunch guests hoping to catch sight of Gok and bag a selfie with him. I’m glad to be able to report that Gok was happy to comply despite having a hectic schedule and being on his way to get changed before hosting the show. The women who were lucky enough to have a private moment with him were delighted with him, he really did come across as warm and engaging as his on screen personality.

The show featured clothes from a range of well known, independent Ayrshire retailers  including Cove from Kilmarnock, Hourstons in Ayr, Prestwick’s Emporium and Belle Boutique, Troon’s September Skies, Sassy’s, Panache and many more. Accessories were provided by Cherry Soda (jewellery), Flair (fascinators), Begg & Co (scarves) and The Shoe Gallery. The entire event had been designed as a showcase for Ayrshire with make-up supplied by The Make Up Lounge and flowers by Kirstie’s Flowers. There were also stalls set up to tempt the brunch ladies with hand-made chocolates from Whyte’s, special gins from Madderty Micro and jewellery and gifts from the Herbary. I caught up with the girls from Cove and Cherry Soda who were happy to explain how they’d been contacted personally by Gok’s team and asked to participate. They all agreed that although a lot of hard work had gone into putting the show together that they felt it well worthwhile and had been excited and happy to be a part of it all.

The fashion show kicked off after brunch with Gok bounding onto stage and making everyone feel welcome in his own imitable style. After an introduction of the aims of the Brunch club he held a Q&A with the ladies with hilarious results. A blend of good advice, wit, innuendo and a clear love of women whatever their shape left the audience wanting more. The show itself, despite the chaotic dress rehearsal, went very smoothly and was well received by a very happy and slightly tipsy audience. Gok, obviously a man who really does believe that any woman can look good, had chosen models to represent different body shapes, age & ethnicity and it was refreshing to see that clothes really can be successfully shown to advantage on models who don’t fit the standard ideal. I know from talking to some of the brunch ladies that they agreed that all of the models looked fantastic and that seeing the clothes on models they could identify with was really appreciated.

After the show, Gok again made himself available for selfies with some of the brunch ladies and also made a point of meeting with all of the contributors. Then it was AM’s turn. I caught up with him in the hotel where he good naturedly posed for yet more photos with our photographer before settling down to chat. This celebrity certainly works hard and I could only imagine that after having a long, exhausting day that the last thing he wanted was to do an interview but he did.

I first congratulated him on the day’s success and he explained a little on why he’d been motivated to start the Fashion Brunch Clubs. He has a clear admiration for all independent fashion retailers and is committed to promoting these alternatives to the High Street as he believes they offer real choice to women and provide them the opportunity to buy something a bit different in their own locality. He was also keen to share that he’s still keen to bang the drum for women of all shapes, sizes, ages & ethnicity to feel confident in their bodies and their fashion choices and to make the most of themselves. He’s planning on building on the success of the scheme and doing more next year.

Having been primed by AM’s fashion guru to ask about his thoughts on Christmas party attire I next asked what his advice would be on this very important topic. His reply was “Yellow, Yellow, Yellow!” I was a bit perplexed as I’d always thought of this as more of a summer colour but on quizzing him he held firm but expanded on it to say “more of a mustard hue” and a 40’s feel with fitted hips and longer length to mid-calf. On Googling mustard party dresses whilst doing my research a month or so after the interview I did find mustard dresses of exactly this type so it seems he was, as usual, spot on with his fashion sense.  He also expects dresses to still be embellished but for this to be pared down.

What next for Gok Wan, well he’s certainly a busy man with no plans for slowing down.  More Fashion Brunch Club events next year, more TV cooking shows and presenting but he’s also currently touring theatres with his one man show Naked and Baring All: Gok Wan.  The candid show covers his life from his childhood on a Leicester council estate, working in his family’s restaurant, the bullying he endured, his eating disorders and his eventual rise to fame and popularity through TV shows like How to Look Good Naked, Too Fat Too Young, The Naked Truth, his appearances as a fashion expert on This Morning and his cooking shows Gok’s Lunchbox and Gok Cook’s Chinese. Although already a published author of style guides and his autobiography Through Thick and Thin, Gok promises to deliver more insights and previously untold stories in a show that he admits will be personally challenging but that he hopes audiences will enjoy.  He certainly has had an eventful life and having now met him in person, a 6 foot 1 bundle of energy and warmth, I can only believe that anyone seeing the show will be well entertained and will laugh and cry with him and leave with a better understanding and hopefully some empathy for anyone who’s ever faced similar issues.