Peter York, Edinburgh Fringe review: a bizarre lecture about fashion, fakery and the importance of shirts

The style guru makes his Edinburgh debut with a show titled, How to Be a Nicer Type of Person

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The Independent Culture

Peter York makes an unlikely debut at the Fringe with a show titled How to Become a Nicer Type of Person.

The style guru and inventor of the Sloane Ranger has not gone soft in his old age, goodness no. Rather this is a waspish hour-long takedown of the things York doesn't like about modern life, the things that “make the hairs stand up on [his] Harris Tweed” - namely, hipster beards, bare brick walls, “readymade” words like creative, spontaneous and authentic, and tracksuits.

“I've never worn Lycra, nor own trainers. The furthest I go is a little suede plimsoll,” he says, dressed impeccably and incongruously in a pinstripe suit, emerald tie and pocket square. He owns 600 dress shirts, he explains, and in one odd section takes his Edinburgh lunchtime audience, largely dressed in jeans and Gore-Tex, through some of them in a bid to explain “why shirts are important.”

The show has its moments. A takedown of Air BnB (which York pronounces hilariously, Air Buh-nuh-Buh) is sharp but repeated jabs at Shoreditch and hipsters feel passe. It's half an attack on fakery, half a paean to elegant fashion, and those two halves do not quite go together. Tim Fountain directs and York clearly doesn't mind sending himself up, but it's still less a show than a rather stiff lecture. For all its sparkling bons mots, it feels like an idea better suited to the page than the stage.

Assembly George Square, to 31 August (0131 623 3030; www.edfringe.com); 15-17 September, Soho Theatre London (www.sohotheatre.com)

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