MY DAUGHTER has never been a girlie girl.
She would, quite literally, rather do her homework and clean out the rabbit than go shopping for shoes or browse the lip glosses in Boots. If we go into town together she steers me away from my favourite clothes stores. Should I stray too close to the doorway of one she grabs my arm forcefully and drags me back into the street.
I feel like a naughty child trying to get into a sweet shop on the way home from the dentist.
In a way I’m quite proud of The Girl’s stand against the superficiality of fashion and her rejection of the shop-till-you-drop culture. If only I felt the same way.
The closest we used to get to mother/daughter bonding with a fashion slant was the annual trip to an out-of-town store (where there is convenient parking) to buy clothes for our summer holiday.
This store ticks all the boxes for Secondborn. She is driven there and back; can get everything she wants under one roof; doesn’t have to go traipsing about from shop to shop; and is spared the need to try anything on because she knows I will simply return everything for her (I’m just delighted to get her into the shop).
And then we discovered Gok Wan, the outrageously camp fashion guru with a prime time television series that has something for each of us.
Tuesday evening has become Girls’ Night. The Man, whose own interest in fashion extends to wearing the shirts I have bought for him, is out playing racquet ball, so we switch on to Gok’s Clothes Roadshow and enjoy, from our different perspectives, a 60-minute televisual feast.
The Girl is amused by his zany showmanship and likes the competition at the end, which pits his stylist skills against those of the rather screechy Brix Smith-Start, whose designer label finds have prices that take your breath away (£18,000 for a coat last week).
I’m a bit of a Gok fan. Or, at least, I used to be.
“He seems like such a genuinely nice person,” I found myself saying a couple of weeks ago, as the once 21-stone, gay presenter paraded his made-over ‘girlfriends’ on the catwalk.
And I have to admire his talent for customising frocks. What he can do with a piece of fringing, a couple of buttons and a bit of bling is nobody’s business.
As someone who performs the occasional make-over on Examiner readers I know a master at work when I see it.
I have, I realised, bought into the Mr Nice Guy image. I’ve seen interviews with him in which he insists that being morbidly obese in his youth made him more sensitive to the way women view their bodies. He understands, he says, our obsession with the lumps and bumps, thickened waistlines and drooping ‘bangers’ (as he calls them). Hence his ‘How to Look Good Naked’ series.
The success of the series was, perhaps, not surprising, given the fact that it had been done before when the Calendar Girls got their kit off 11 years ago, caused a worldwide sensation and inspired many copycat publications.
Women, it would appear, like someone who makes them look and feel better, particularly when that someone is a flamboyant gay man with some great, if cheeky, lines in confidence boosting. (Take note straight men).
However, and it’s a big however, I discovered this week that Gok has faced accusations of misogyny and being a foul-mouthed bully after his treatment of a group of lingerie models during the filming of How to Look Good Naked in 2008.
One said that while viewers taking part in the show were treated to the Gok magic and left thrilled with their make-overs, the models (including one who was size 14) were verbally abused with such vitriol that she lodged a formal complaint with Channel 4.
Now I’m not sure where I was when this story surfaced but I have to confess that it escaped my attention at the time and no-one has mentioned it to me since.
Until I Googled Gok, I knew nothing of allegations which suggested he had used insulting and crude behaviour or the furore it caused.
Clearly the Channel 4 people feel that any issues raised have been dealt with because since then Gok’s had another couple of television series – but it does bother me.
And now I feel let down, particularly as Girls’ Night, so long in the making, is under threat.
But, I have to ask myself, does it really matter that Gok is allegedly a flawed entertainer – like so many – if we enjoy his shows?
After all, the entertainment industry has always been littered with brilliant showmen and women who were – and are – not very nice people.
Now I don’t know whether we should watch him or not.
But one thing I am sure of is that if we do it will be with an entirely different, perhaps more cynical viewpoint, which is a terrible shame.