“A Richard James suit, Oliver Sweeney shoes and M&S pants,” said David Cameron, breathing tantalising secrets of his “look” to journalists at the opening of Men’s London Fashion Week. This week’s events promise to be the largest, most ambitious British male fashion hoopla to date. Behold, David Gandy, Tinie Tempah, Benedict Cumberbatch et al, wrapped in bank-balance crippling garms on front rows, pulling the blasé “constipated goose” face one must while “frowing” (front-rowing – oh, do keep up). So, yes, men’s fashion week... it’s very serious. Even if I cannot read phrases like “blah blah was famed for introducing the man clutch” without a small smile playing around my gob.
“Crikey, Sandra,” one might say, “I fancied Lee so much when he walked into the bar with his deep brown eyes, holding his lovely man clutch.” Actually, no, one wouldn’t say that. It can’t be done. However, I bet there are hundreds of unclutched male clutch bags lying neglected in the bottom of British men’s wardrobes right now. Because over recent decades one wonky by-product of equality in the sexes is that men are being as cajoled, manipulated and peer-pressurised by fashion as women are. I’m not sure if I’m happy for them or not.
As much as I love a nice frock and expensive heels, I did learn a long time ago that the fashion industry – and I know they won’t mind me saying this as they are a famously thick-skinned bunch – is a crock of crap.
A hollow cacophony of smoke, mirrors and pixie dust which brainwashes idiots like me – and a million other intelligent women reading this – into buying hyper-expensive coats, the arms of which fall off in a fortnight, while saddening me that I’m not a sample size due to my utter insistence on owning tits. And almost wholly written about in the media and fashion blogs by people too terrified to put a foot wrong as advertisers will pull budgets or their ticket to “frow” next season might be reneged. But now it’s 2013 and men are embracing all this, too! Welcome, boys. We’ve been expecting you. Have you thought about going on a diet? Summer is coming and pastel-coloured super-short short suits can be very unforgiving!
Or later on, I see the men in my life glued to the Mr Porter online sale, or arranging Saturday dates to go clothes shopping. (I still don’t believe straight men really meet up to go shopping. To my mind, this sentence can only be an elaborate cover for visiting a brothel.) I see them pondering how much of a month’s salary to blow on a good winter coat.
In the Seventies, if my grandfather needed trousers, so he would not have to suffer the inconvenience and emasculating horror of stepping inside a clothes shop, my gran would go to town, purchase three pairs, schlep them home, then take the two unsuitable pairs back the next morning. Job done. Clothes bought. He could get on with fannying about up a ladder.
My father will set foot in Marks & Spencer menswear department but only if each item he buys is offered to him by my mother as she trumpets its specific usage. “This, George, would be a comfy pair of trousers to drive the Volvo in”, or, “Here, George, is a jacket perfect for walking a dog in”, and so on.
But times have shifted, and now men can and should be as curious about Tom Ford’s Autumn/Winter plans and the quest for a signature scent as me. Aren’t you lucky. Of course, at the root of all this desperation to look fabulous is, I believe, the inner quest for sex, money or power. Expensively and fashionably groomed men must be an aphrodisiac for some women if the Bernie Eccleston-a-likes I see in London SW1 festooned in Bond Street’s finest leisurewear being fawned upon by 20-year-old girlfriends are anything to go by. It seems to be easier to love someone at first sight when their Oswald Boateng suit suggests they winter in St Barts. Yet I’m not sure whether women are truly turned on by men obsessed with fashion. The Hollywood actor Gerard Butler, for example, has the look of someone who dresses only from the Fat Face sale rack, and is killing time before Wetherspoons opens again. He doesn’t look like a man fully aware of the brand of his underpants which is perhaps why I often think about removing them.
Well, done Piers for sticking to your guns
It’s worth treating yourself to a cuppa and a 15-minute sit-down to watch Piers Morgan vs pro-gun advocate Alex Jones on Morgan’s Today show – widely available on the internet. Britain smirked when Jones created an online petition calling for Morgan to be deported for having the gall, post-Sandy Hook massacre, to crusade for fewer guns. “We don’t want him back, thanks!” many people quipped.
But when one watched gun-enthusiast Alex Jones burbling maniacally and aggressively at Morgan about conspiracy theories, Hitler, 1776, 9/11, the Prozac in the water “causing” gun deaths NOT guns, plus his violent intentions to protect his right to own the 52 guns in his own home, well, this became less amusing.
For everything that’s said about Piers Morgan’s gregarious personality, I feel his commitment to take on America over the Second Amendment is brave and impressive. Some might say he has a death wish.
The sincere horror and sadness that the British felt as news of Sandy Hook played out on our TV screens was palpable. I watched over three nights as thousands of Brits on Twitter shouted the odds over America’s gun control and what should be done. Yet, by the Sunday, the news agenda and our collective ire had respectfully moved on. So it is worth noting that, nearly three weeks later, Piers Morgan is still making very vocal trouble for the gun lobby. I wish him luck. I think he might need it.
Who knew a movie could be ‘too gay’?
Anyone feeling warm and fuzzy about the leaps we’ve made with gay equality over recent years will be rudely awoken by Oscar-winning filmmaker Steven Soderbergh’s news that not one studio in Hollywood would make his biopic of Liberace because it was “too gay”. Despite casting Michael Douglas, below, and Matt Damon, both also Oscar winners, and despite Soderbergh seeking a meagre $5m budget, “nobody would make it. We went to everybody in town.” The film Behind The Candelabra has eventually been made for TV by HBO. Who knew “gay” was box-office kryptonite? All my “hoorays for Hollywood” are suspended until further notice.