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Tan France Is Ready To Take On Fragile Masculinity’s Fashion Problem

Culture
Photo via Instagram/@tanfrance

‘Queer Eye’ Season 2 premieres June 15

From shows like What Not to Wear to Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style, it’s pretty much written into the rules of reality television that clothes are the key to a transformative experience. Enter Queer Eye’s fashion expert Tan France, who serves up a seemingly endless array of smart prints and fitted pants to clueless men (and in this coming season, women and transmen!), all in an effort to help them become the best versions of themselves.

So ahead of Season 2’s premiere, we spoke to Tan about his first trans makeover, fragile masculinity’s problem with fashion, and that cop episode from last season. Read our Q&A, below.

What would you say is the hardest part of your job?
Getting the heroes to really let their guard down when it comes to clothes. I think a lot of men—straight men—see clothing as superficial and shallow. So the hardest part is convincing them that this is just as important as any of the other verticals on the show. For me personally, if I don't look a certain way, I don't feel confident going into my day and doing the things that I need to do that day. So, I think it's actually a really powerful way of commanding a room: the way you dress.

Queer Eye touches on some pretty pertinent American issues, like police brutality, Trump, etc. What is it like as the one non-American on the show?
I've been in the U.S. for about 10 years, so I understand America almost as well as I do home—England. I'm obviously a person of color, so the issues that we cover on the show, including police brutality or Black Lives Matter, I feel all the same kind of feels that Karamo does when I'm pulled over by a police officer. And you see our reactions when we're pulled over by the police. The first thing I say is that they saw me in the back, and I giggle through it because that's what I do when I'm nervous. But it's true. I'm very much aware of those feelings. I think that we have the same issues in the U.K. as you guys have in the U.S.

What would you say then is the biggest difference?
In the U.K., we're more comfortable saying what we're feeling. That's just us in general. I think Americans—not just in the coastal states, but everywhere—are a lot more passive-aggressive. Whereas in the U.K., they're just aggressive-aggressive. So if they've got an opinion, you're gonna hear it whether you like it or not.

Most Americans think that English people are the sweetest people in the world and that there's no way they would ever hurt your feelings. That is not the case at all. If we've got something to say, we say it. Even my castmates are shocked. The amount of times they've said, "Only Tan would say that," because it's true! If we've got something to say, whether it's very sweet or not, we say it. Usually, when I speak, it's not meant to be mean, but for my American counterparts, I think that they see it as quite shocking when I give my opinion so freely. 

I’m curious about something you said on Skylar’s episode—that you’d never really gotten to know a trans person before that episode.
I want to push that back slightly and say that the scenes in that episode were the proudest moments of the show for me, personally. Because when we go into an episode with any of our heroes, we agree on what we want to do a week or so in advance. We don't get to meet them, but we get a dossier and a picture. And we kind of are able to dictate what we want to do. The producers and the showrunner has a loose plan of how they want the episode to go, and then we say whether we want to do that or not. If we think that something could make the episode better, we suggest it. I revealed during the pre-production meeting that I'd never had an interaction with a trans person before, and I think it's really important that we do this sensitively and really well. But I said I wanted to be able to ask the questions that people around the world might want to ask. I didn't want this to just be a case of, “Well, all gays know trans people, and all members of the LGBTQIA community know each other, and we understand each other’s fight.” I don't think that's the case at all. 

It wasn't vocalized during the episode, but [food and wine expert Antoni Porowski] hadn't interacted with a trans person before either, as far as I'm aware. But I fought for a certain scene, and that's why [that scene with Skylar is] my scene, and I got to be the one asking all those questions. I think that is a common misconception—that just because we're part of the LGBTQIA community we all have interactions with people and we understand their life as well as we do our own. That is a massive, common misconception. I know I have many gay friends and they all feel the same way. Some of them don't understand the lesbian community, some of them don't understand the trans community. That's just the way it is. And I live in Salt Lake City. I moved from a small town in the U.K. Trans people, if they were trans, definitely didn't want to stay in a small town. And if they're trans, they definitely aren't hanging around the places that I'm at in Salt Lake City. They usually move to coastal states where their lives are easier, and they're more welcomed in those states than they are in somewhere like Utah. 

Has it been weird for you to do this hard pivot into fame? Like having people scrutinize your every move and have to answer tough questions.
With the good comes the bad, but the majority of it's been amazing. Knowing that you can influence and encourage people to live a version of themselves that they didn't know was possible is wonderful. That feels really powerful, and I'm really proud of that. However, there are some negatives. You do feel like your words could be misconstrued, and the comments that you make could offend somebody. There's a lot of time spent making sure that I'm speaking correctly and that I'm not saying anything that could be inflammatory. I think that's the only real downside of all of this.

That's so exhausting though. 
Honestly, the hardest part for me is not that I usually say something that's offensive, it's usually that I swear a disgusting amount. And reining that in has been really, really hard. I think that there were a lot more bleeps in Season 2 than there were in Season 1 for sure.  

I was talking to [culture expert Karamo Brown] earlier and asked him if he could switch jobs with any of the other guys, and he immediately said fashion—
No, I'm going to have to disagree with him, because he would just put everybody in a bomber. 

I think that's a good look. It's very chic. 
It is. It's a very good look, don’t get me wrong...

What about you? If you could switch jobs with anyone, who would it be and why?
Antoni, because I actually love to cook... well, I love to cook, but I love to bake. I wonder if we could have a world where we all switch roles one day. But instead of me teaching them how to cook real food, I would cook the one food group that I really appreciate, which is cake. 

I love your update to the food pyramid.
Yeah, cake is an entire food group. That's what I would want to do. The other categories I like... the other boys think I would do grooming, just because I am very groomed. However, I have no real interest in that. 

I mean your brows are on point.
Thank you. It's mostly genetics! I don't do much with my brows at all. I just get rid of my mono[brow], and then we're good. I don't let anybody else touch them! I'm very particular about my hair and my eyebrows. Nobody styles my hair, I do it myself. And I even do the top of my hair myself. Nobody's cut my hair in 10, 12 years. And my brows—nobody does those. I just pluck the center of them myself, and then we're good to go! 

I need you and [grooming expert Jonathan Van Ness] to switch jobs, so that everyone can be in a crop top—
So here's the thing, I started the crop top thing. They all now do it, but I totally started that. I was the first one to wear a couple on the show! And then Jonathan got jealous…. 

Queer Eye Season 2 premieres June 15 on Netflix.

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Well, actually it's crocodile, but she looks out of this world so...

Winnie Harlow walked the Cannes red carpet on Wednesday on her way to a screening of Oh Mercy!, wearing a showstopping gown.

The sheer black dress featured green embroidery on the front and back, which Ralph and Russo confirmed was in the shape of a crocodile. She belted the dress with a black crocodile skin-like belt and finished the look off with some strappy heels. She didn't leave it at just that. For beauty, Harlow packed on full lids of sparkly purple eyeshadow. She kept her hair sleek and simple.

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Though the brand says otherwise, as Game of Thrones fans, we'd like to think the embroidery is reminiscent of a dragon's skin. Not to mention, Harlow looks out-of-this-world beautiful in it.

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Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

That denim kimono!!

Marion Cotillard shut down the Cannes red carpet on Wednesday at a screening for Matthias Et Maxime. Instead of an extravagant gown that's expected of the event, Cotillard wore a matching black crop top and shorts. Despite wearing an outfit I typically don to a hot yoga class, she looks incredible. She completed the look with an oversized denim kimono, a statement necklace, and heeled booties.

Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

At first, I was drawn in by the crop top and hotpants duo, but, after looking closer at the kimono, it's clear that it's the real scene-stealer. The floor-length Balmain piece was decorated with artful rips and dragon motifs. I would like to live in it.

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Let's all bow down to the Khaleesi of Cannes.

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Photo by Frazer Harrison / Getty Images.

"It doesn't make you weak to ask for help"

Singer Billie Eilish is continuing to open up about mental health, this time in a new PSA video in partnership with the Ad Council and Seize the Awkward.

In the video, Eilish insists that "it doesn't make you weak to ask for help." She doubles down on the importance of asking for help, and stresses the importance of friends and family being there when their close ones reach out and checking in on them as well. "You should be able to ask anyone for help, everyone has to help someone if they need it." According to Eilish, there have been times when someone reached out to her at the exact moment she needed it, and it helped.

It was particularly refreshing to see Eilish acknowledge that there are things she still doesn't know and has to learn about her mental health. At the very beginning of the video, the interviewer asks her to reflect on her mental health journey, and all Eilish can do is let out chortle. "I think when people hear, 'Remember to take care of your mental health,' they think that everyone else is, and that is not at all accurate," she admitted. "You know, for me I'm trying to learn still to make sure that I stay okay."

Check out the PSA below.

Billie Eilish On Mental Health & Friendship | Ad Council www.youtube.com

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Photograph via @kimkardashian.

"#NotOnMyMoodBoard"

Kim Kardashian has definitely been accused of borrowing a design now and then. But when Instagram influencer and Kardashian look-alike Kamilla Osman claimed the entrepreneur copied her birthday look for a Met Gala after-party, Kardashian was not going to let it fly—and shared plenty of photo evidence to shut down the claim.

Fashion industry watchdog Diet Prada first noticed Osman's claims on Instagram and shared side-by-side images of Kardashian's Cher-inspired outfit designed by Mugler and Osman's dress. "Never get confused with who 'inspires' who. They won't give you credit but they will copy," Osman wrote on her IG story. "I designed this dress for my birthday last year. Nobody had a dress like this was an original design."

Kardashian responded by posting the true inspiration behind her look: images of Cher, in similarly sparkly, plunging-neckline dresses and wigs, and of model Yasmeen Ghauri walking a Mugler show in the '90s. In fact, the only similarity between Osman's and Kardashian's looks is the bodycon mini-dress style, which the two are not the first to wear. Among the images, Kardashian included a blank slide with the hashtag "NotOnMyMoodBoard," making it clear that this was in response to Osman's claims.

Screenshot via @KimKardashian Instagram Stories

Screenshot via @KimKardashian Instagram Stories

Though I am with Kim on this one, Kardashian does have a history of co-opting other people's work. From being sued over her Kimoji app, to claims she copied makeup palettes and perfume bottle designs, to being accused of copying Naomi Campbell's entire style, it's far from the first (and probably, far from the last) time Kardashian's name will be mentioned like this.

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After delivered the perfect pep talk

When Lena Waithe took over as a guest host on Jimmy Kimmel Live, her first time ever as a late-night host, actress and friend Halle Berry knew exactly how to pump her up. After Kimmel's security guard Guillermo Rodriguez hit the "Berry Button" (a large button on the wall that says just that), Berry came running out in a backless tee and boyfriend jeans to give Waithe a pep talk... and plant one on her.

Berry rolled in as if she'd just jogged from hanging out with her friends to come to Waithe's immediate aid, joking she wasn't dressed for the occasion; but, let's be real, she could wear a paper bag, and we wouldn't complain. Waithe requested the "Halle Berry juice," similar to her 2002 Oscars speech, and Berry immediately had the lights turned down low and jumped into inspirational speech mode.

"I know that you are a force of nature. You are a beautiful African-American queen going after everything that is hers," Berry said before going on to list Waithe's many titles and accomplishments. She jokingly concluded, "And you already winning, girl, 'cause you are dressed way better than Jimmy ever will," before asking if Waithe needed anything else. Clearly, Waithe thought that was all Berry was there to do, because she said no, but Berry insisted she needed one more thing before grabbing Waithe's face and surprising her with a kiss. "Wow," Waithe reacted after Berry pulled away, and honestly same!

Watch the video, below.

Lena Waithe's Guest Host Monologue on Jimmy Kimmel Live youtu.be

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