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It’s been 14 years since Gok Wan burst onto our screens to encourage us to love ourselves just the way we are in How To Look Good Naked. Previously, makeover shows focused on changing our faces and bodies and concealing certain parts.

However, that was never what Gok, now 46, was about and he began to change the landscape. His message has never been more important, with the pressures of social media, so it made complete sense for the show to have a revival this year.

In fact, Gok seems to be having a complete career resurgence, with TV execs and audiences alike remembering his unique charm. The fashion stylist also has a cooking show called Gok Wan’s Easy Asian, regularly appears on This Morning for fashion and food segments and even earned himself an MBE for services to fashion and social awareness.

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Plus, he had us all dancing with DJ skills that gained prevalence when he started Isolation Nation during lockdown. In a plot twist that nobody expected, including himself, he has now joined a music management agency and has just released a single, a cover of Let Me Be Your Fantasy.

Gok welcomed OK! into his London pad and opened up about the decision to focus on his career rather than romance, and how he has learned to accept himself…

You’ve said lockdown has been the hardest time of your life. Why is that?

It’s been awful! Not being able to move around like we’re used to, I’ve found it difficult to enjoy a single part of it. But I had to put stuff in place to make it a better situation. I have to remember I am not in prison, I am not in a cell, I have a lovely home, I have stuff to do and can use my phone to talk to people. But the idea that I couldn’t go out like I used to, or go to a pub or a bar, still now, even though lockdown has eased, frustrates me. And the atmosphere is different. I followed the guidance to the letter and so I thought the only way to get around it was to read up on why the measures are in place and it’s become a slight obsession actually!

Have you found any positives to being forced to slow down?

Absolutely not. I don’t want to slow down! I am not a slow person. I just don’t enjoy it all. Probably my biggest vice is my job and working too much. But I love my job and it’s what I have chosen to do. I chose not to have children, I have chosen not to get married, and I have chosen to invest the majority of my time in my friends, my family and my work. If I wanted to slow down I would have by now. As soon as I can, my foot is back on the pedal and we’re off again!


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Was not getting married and having kids a conscious decision?

I don’t think any of our permanent decisions can ever be that conscious. I had to make choices. Those choices were whether or not to buy a house in the country, marry a husband and have four children, probably get a horse, all of that. That’s great if that is what your heart desires. I have friends who have that, and it’s their perfect world. I adore visiting that world, but I love my job and the chaos that comes with it, and there was no way I was going to give up my freedom – until it got taken away this year.

Why do you think you feel this way?

I have a massive Peter Pan complex. I literally behave like a child, I love it that way and I don’t want to ever change. A lot of people say it depends on who or what inspires you. There is a character in Four Weddings And A Funeral that Simon Callow plays and the day that he dies, he is dancing around a funeral in a kilt, literally going full pelt and I find that completely inspiring [laughs]. That’s what I want to be doing. I don’t want to be sitting and waiting for life to happen, I want to be creating it.

How do you feel about bringing out a single?

I’ve always loved music and DJing. It’s a hobby that turned into a job. I guess it was a dream of mine but I never actually imagined I’d be good enough. I still can’t believe I have released a single that made it to the top of the iTunes charts, and in the first week made it to #36 in the UK’s Official Big 40! At the start of lockdown I started a virtual online rave from my kitchen called Isolation Nation. Very quickly we gained a huge amount of followers. I have been DJing professionally for around five years, but not everyone knew, until now. When the world is back to “normal” I hope to go on tour with Isolation Nation. I’ve recently signed to Club Class Music Management who are big players in the industry and we are in the stages of planning 2021 – it’s very exciting!




You’ve had a very positive reaction…

I cried happy tears at some of the comments on a recent Instagram post about it. People told me that they were isolating alone and it was a safe place for them to go or that it brought them happiness in a scary time. There were thousands of comments, and it was really overwhelming. It was just me having a party in my kitchen! But community is really important, especially in 2020. I’m glad I was able to do some good.

You seem to enjoy keeping things varied in your career with music, TV, fashion and cooking. Is that how you like it?

I’ve never ever stopped at one thing. Even when I did fashion styling I’d also do hair and make-up. I like to test myself and give everything a go. Some things I’ve tried and it hasn’t really worked so I’ve quickly moved on. I have a natural fear of failing, but surprisingly it doesn’t hold me back!


Why did you decide to bring back How To Look Good Naked this year?

The programme makers approached me and asked if I would do the remake. I was really unsure about it and a bit nervous about what the reaction would be like now, and if the message was still relevant. Plus, the show takes a huge amount out of me but I’m glad I decided to do it. It was nice to see that the original audience who watched it the first time round returned but also their children watched it, too. It’s an interesting mix that made me feel very old!

Are you proud to have pioneered a show that told people they didn’t have to change themselves?

I love the message behind it and I am so proud of the show. I appreciate being called a pioneer but I don’t know if I was. I think it came at the right time. Women were fed up of being told what to look like, to go on diets or have surgery. I was very lucky to be part of a movement that said it was okay to be who we were.

Do you think social media has the opposite effect?

Social media is tricky – I have a love/hate relationship with it. I love sharing on there and using my voice, but there is a real danger to it. I believe it can be quite damaging to young people who have been brought up on these platforms and don’t know any different. It’s very hard for them to understand what is and isn’t real. A lot of images on social media are edited heavily and people are aspiring to something that isn’t real. I think we’re going to have to start policing it. You can’t stop the evolution of technology, but we’ve got to make sure we have the right tools and policies in place.


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You lift other people up but how do you give yourself confidence?

I remember that our bodies are going to change but there are worse things happening – especially right now! We need to focus on the positive things. I listen to my own advice. I know what stuff is most important and it’s really not physicality. It’s about our actions, politics, ethics – our heart and soul. How we treat people is much more important than dress size. I do truly believe that. I don’t have a fixed self-esteem. It’s impossible to always feel good. Of course I have down days, but when I have good days I remember what it’s all about. I take my own medicine.

You are very close to your family. Does their support mean a lot?

I have an incredible family and I’m so lucky that we’re so close. We argue and shout, but they’re a great source of comfort and support especially during this time. My mum and dad try to watch everything I’m in. In fact, my mum gets very angry if I forget to tell her I’m doing a This Morning segment. She used to record everything on VHS. I need to get those converted to DVD for her. When I collect my MBE, if I can take two people, it will be Mum and Dad. We’re still waiting to find out as, obviously, it got postponed because of covid. If I’m only allowed one, I’ll take my sister to save the arguments [laughs].

How did it feel to be told you’re getting an MBE at the start of the year?

Surreal, and I felt very unworthy of it. I think any person would. I’ve worked really hard at fashion, but it was such an honour to be acknowledged for social awareness. I do a lot of charity work, a lot without anybody knowing, so to get a huge award, and half of it for the charity work I do, is incredible. I’ve been lucky enough to meet quite a lot of the royals in line-ups but I’ve never met the Queen so hopefully she will give me my MBE. She did drive past me at Ascot and I imagined she was waving at me.

Is giving back important to you?

Growing up, my mum and dad owned a restaurant and they always had a charity collection box on the counter. Giving for me feels like second nature. I’m really lucky that I’ve been able to make a good living. I have a lovely home, I’m very comfortable and I work. I think it’s really important that I invest a proportion of my time and effort into helping people that aren’t as fortunate as me because that is basic human nature. However big or small – whether that’s helping somebody across the road, raising some money or attending a function or whatever – I think all of us can do slightly more to help other people. It helps me sleep easier.

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You’ve raised a huge amount this year for charity…

A lot of the proceeds from Isolation Nation went to Black Lives Matter, Stonewall, NHS Charities Together and Feeding Britain. We’ve raised around £60,000 so far and my aim is £100,000 by the end of the year. It’s hard though, as there’s not much spare cash out there, which is why charities are struggling.

Have you seen an improvement in diversity since you started your career?

We’re going in the right direction but we’ve got a long way to go. BLM protests are still continuing because there is still a lot of work to be done and it’s the same for the LGBTQ+ community. I’ve seen a very slight difference this year, but we need to continue to change and not let it pass. I would love a world where everyone was equal… I hope I live to see that one day. But, it is going to take a lot of listening, learning and action.

If you could give your young self any advice, what would it be?

Stop worrying and putting so much pressure on yourself. Relax a little bit and enjoy the ride. I have proud moments every day now and it’s remarkable. Every day I am surprised.

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