Gok Wan at Royal Ascot: ‘I love the big messes on people’s heads’

The style guru tells us what fashion hits and misses he’ll be looking out for in his live reports from Royal Ascot (Channel 4, Tues-Sat, June 17-21)…

Are you excited about going off to Ascot?
“Well, I’ve never been before, so if ever there’s a time to go, it’s working at Ascot in the Royal Enclosure, where I’m hosting the show from. I’m going as a virgin and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve betted on the races before, but never been there. Whenever I watch it, I’m looking at the fashions. It’s second nature to me. Also, the whole event is amazing, it’s an extravaganza. There are very few occasions like this that happen on such a grand scale. It’s like the biggest wedding ever! Everyone makes such an effort – the shoes, the hair, make-up and the dresses, it’s fascinating.”

Don’t you think some people go overboard?
“I kind of like that. Don’t you need the light and shade? I don’t think there are mistakes. The moment you get someone who’s gone absolutely to town and created some big mess on their head, I love that! To have the confidence to go out there and do it is great. A lot of them make their own! The idea that they’ve been creative is wonderful.”

What about the sky-high ‘porn’ shoes often on show?
“I struggle with those shoes, I don’t particularly like them. They are a little bit impractical, especially in the mud! The older I get, the more I’m into classic fashion. It will be very interesting to see what’s there.”

Will you be mingling with the Royals?
“Hopefully, fingers crossed that they come anywhere near me! I’ll be in other areas too. We’ve filmed other stuff that will be slotted in daily, fashion items and interviewing designers.”

Are you worried about not enough celebs turning up?
“Everyone turns up! Also, it’s not just about celebs for me. Obviously, we want to get some on camera, but it’ll be mainly about going out and meeting everyone, seeing what they’re doing. I have invited quite a lot of celebs so we’ll see. I can’t say who! There’ll be all the racing journalists there too who’ll be doing the business side of things. I’m sure I’ll be commenting on what they’re wearing.”

It sounds nerve wracking, being live…
“Live television is really scary anyway and doing it at such a massive event is quite terrifying. You’ve got all the atmosphere, ambience and then people screaming in your ear. You’re trying to read your notes and then grabbing people. But I’ve done red carpet events before and that’s the hardest presenting to do. I imagine it’ll be a slightly watered-down version of that. Whatever happens, it’s going to be exhausting.”

You have a lot of energy, you seem to do so much…
“I do, but I’ll have a rest before, although I’m in Australia filming the week before! I have three days to get over the jetlag.”

Don’t drink on the day!
“Ooh, that’s tricky though. You have to have a glass of champagne for breakfast at Ascot!”

How long will you be filming?
“All day, it’s all live. When it happens in the schedule it’ll be, ‘Over to you now Gok’ and I’ll grab someone and talk to them about their shoes!”

Have they told you not to be too rude?
“That’s not my style anyway. Maybe they’ll tell me not to be too nice! I do like the positive side of life and I feel very uncomfortable criticising what people wear. It sounds a bit bizarre for a stylist as you’d think you have to do that, but I don’t. A couple of times when I have commented on a personal point of view about what someone’s wearing, I have felt dreadful.”

What do you think of the Queen’s style?
“I love her fashion. I think she looks beautiful. She dresses great, I love it, so I’m looking forward to seeing all of them. I hope The Queen wears lemon, it really suits her. Or pale blue.”

Will you have time for a bet?
“I will be having a bet and I’m going to try and get Claire Balding’s number to call her before the races and get some top tips. I’ve met Claire once before and she seems lovely. Very good at her job, she knows what she’s doing. She always looks very cool and calm. I think I may be a hot sweaty mess! We’ll see.”

What will you be wearing?
“I’ve got to wear a morning coat. Boys are allowed to change their shirt combination, but that’s it. Everything has to be traditional, so I’ll have the top hat, the striped trousers and waistcoat. But I’ve changed the tie which is apparently quite risqué for Ascot. It’s quite nice having to wear a uniform as I don’t have to think about what I’m wearing, for once. As soon as I get out of there it’ll be straight into sweatshirt, trainers and jeans.”

You have your books, cooking and also panto again this year?
“Yes, I’m doing it again this year in Southampton. I’m playing the Fairy Gokmother. It wasn’t my idea! I did a show about doing panto last year and it was great. It was hard work and totally exhausting. I still feel like I’m trying to recover from that. It was great though. I’ve always loved panto, the theatre and that kind of hamming it up. It’s a great cast and the audiences are always great.”

Is your diary always filled out a year ahead?
“Yes, I probably know by February what I’m doing for the whole year. It’s really busy this year. I thought it might be a bit quieter, maybe a bit of relaxing, but there’s no time for holidays. I might have a week off in September.”

You look great – have you been working out?
“Yeah, I’m doing a little bit of exercise. I’m taking it really slowly, just doing some strengthening stuff. I did have a bad back so I’ve been building up some muscle. Hurting my back was the worst year, it was dreadful. I had to lay down…”