Thursday, July 16

AK Soufflé: The cut of his jib

- July 10, 2017

The 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexual acts is seeing a flurry of media activity. You cannot turn on your TV without encountering some famous gay celebrities recounting their experiences, their musical loves and even their favourite gay buildings! Yes gay buildings, who would have ever thought it – but there they all are, the stately homos of England as the wonderful Quentin Crisp might have said had he still been with us standing in front of iconic building – that status being achieved not by the architecture or the structure but by what had happened there.

I was lucky enough to meet Quentin many times when I was an art student in Chelsea. He was by that time no longer modeling but he did come in to give some of his famous talks and I chatted to him over a cup of tea in the canteen and once went to his infamously dusty and very small flat, for tea I hasten to add and nothing more. He was the most extraordinary character and a great ambassador for those gay men who had not been swept along by the new macho macho man image that was at the time being adopted by a new generation of homosexual.

“ I was lucky enough to meet Quentin Crisp many times ”

Quentin made it easier for those of us who enjoyed being flamboyant and felt silly in Levis, plaid shirts and Timberland boots all topped off with a yard-brush moustache. Well to be honest at that time I couldn’t have grown a moustache at all and as such that lumberjack look was beyond my grasp.

I went the other way and dressed in vibrant colours, favouring the best of the new designers, Katherine Hamnet, Body Map, Willy Smith and a smattering of the things I could afford from World’s End, which I recall were pitate socks. I was lucky, as a designer I knew a lot people in the rag trade and there were often warehouse sales of the previous season’s clothes, especially the more outrageous ones that simply had been too much for the mass market – but not for me.
Dressing up was fun, and still is and I was delighted to go along to Brighton Museum to engage in a new project, Wear It Out, which will create an archive of gay fashion that will be curated over the next year. Look out for my interview with the man behind it, Martin Pel, on my TV show in a few weeks’ time.

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