Portrait: His harshest critic

As a food writer, AA Gill is renowned for his withering turn of phrase, but, it seems, he reserves his most merciless judgements for himself

I don't spend any time on my looks. I just shower, shave and go. But looks and style are important to me. They always said that music was the international language, but if you've ever listened to Egyptian pop songs you'd know it just isn't; whereas fashion style is international. It's the one cultural form that everybody in the world takes part in. What you wear is always, more or less consciously, an advertisement for you, or for who you think you are, or for who you want people to think you are - and I find that endlessly fascinating.

Men either don't care about clothes at all - they'll wear their shirts inside out and trainers until the environmental health officer comes and says, "You wear those again and we're locking you up" - or they're quite fussy about clothes. I'm one of the fussy ones.

One of the worst things about being a man in Britain is that the summertime is a real bugger to get dressed in. Men's clothes in summer are ghastly. I pray for wet weather, when I can actually dress like a man again, so I spend a lot of time looking for very lightweight suits or material to have suits made up.

I have two tailors. You should always have two tailors because it keeps them on their toes. I go to Doug Hayward and Ozwald Boateng. They're both incredibly nice blokes, and Ozwald's so funny, and I'm absolutely one of his stock sizes - a perfect 38. I buy Oswald's suits off the peg and Dougie makes them for me. I choose women's headscarves for the linings and they're always very colourful. Dougie's one of the best cutters and suit-makers in this country. Going to the tailors is one of the great pleasures. If I didn't go I'd have to have counselling. It's my own personal form of retail therapy.

I have a kilt fetish, but I look like every shortbread tin you can imagine, squared. At the moment Kinlock Anderson have a kilt whimpering for me in their kennels. It's in the Gill tartan, really bright. I wear nothing underneath them, and it's so much nicer.

I used to wear a monocle, which I loved. It hung round my neck so I never lost it. Then my other eye went and a man with two monocles looks even more stupid than a man with one, so I got rid of it. But I'm very bad with spectacles because I have such a pathetically small nose, and they always fall off.

You probably get the face you deserve. You grow into it. Your face must be formed by your experiences. We look at people's faces and we make strings of assumptions about them, the most important of which is, `Do I want to fuck this person?'. So you look for all the things you associate with being attractive and then you look again, and you go, `That's a really nice old face, it looks like that person's had an interesting life.' So age can be fantastically attractive. Youth can be extremely beautiful, but it's often supremely bland.

The great thing about British looks is that they come accompanied by a voice, and that voice, that soundtrack, changes everything. I have this particular voice - and God knows where I got it from - that immediately makes people go, `Ugh, something vile out of Wodehouse.' But I've had a much more eclectic life than people imagine.

I've always felt quite differently inside from the way I actually look. I often wonder what I would think if I met a man who looked like me. I think my style says about me: fussy closet gay, middle-aged man having a crisis. Sometimes I catch sight of this person in shop windows and I go, `Aagghh, who's that?' And it's me.

I've got lousy teeth and I hate my smile. I went to the school dentist, who trained under Laurence Olivier and fucked up my teeth. So when I go to parties with Nicola [Formby], there are always photographs of her looking absolutely stunning and me with this terrible nerdy smile. What I like best about my looks is that Nicola can live with them. That she found me not so hideously gopping that I'd have to be The Man in the Iron Mask. In the end, that's what it's about. They're there as an advertisement and, you know, if you ever get a punter you're pleased, and I'm jolly pleased that she found them attractive enough to get on with.

AA Gill's novel `Starcrossed' is published by Doubleday at pounds 9.99

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

    £24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

    £22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

    Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

    Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions