Along with culture expert and bomber jacket doyen Karamo Brown, interior design miracle worker Bobby Berk, grooming pro and master of the bon mot Jonathan Van Ness and avocado bae Antoni Porowski, "Queer Eye" fashion guru Tan France has had a very busy summer. For starters, break out the champagne (or "frickin' delicious" sangria, rather) because the breakout Netflix series was just nominated for four Emmys, including Outstanding Casting (co-sign) and just began production on season three in the new locale of Kansas City, Missouri.
France himself is juggling multiple projects, including writing his memoir — out next spring with St. Martin's Press — fusing "real issues" and his experiences going from South Yorkshire, England to Salt Lake City, Utah to "Queer Eye" fame with fashion and style. He's also working his menswear transformation magic on Pete Davidson, yet again, for the "Saturday Night Live" star's upcoming wedding to Ariana Grande. (But hey, at least the two have an affinity for the now-famous French Tuck in common. Who did it first?)
This month, France is applying his fashion makeover talents and low-key therapist skills to a worthwhile cause, the Men's Wearhouse Suit Drive. The annual effort encourages donations of gently-worn professional attire to help men and women dress for success as they re-enter the workforce. The Suit Drive hits especially close to home for France, who has conducted his fair share of interviews while running his own fashion business back in the U.K.
"Hopefully [the attire] will be the thing that lands them a job," he says over the phone from Kansas City. "[How you dress] may seem shallow to some people, but, I'm telling you, at work — or any part of your life — it can really help change the way you are perceived."
Before deciding who sits shotgun on the way to meet the season three premiere's new hero, France was also happy to answer our burning questions, like French Tucking at the Emmys: yay or nay? Did he take Tammye shopping in Gay, Georgia in the season two premiere? And, of course, how did he become besties with Gigi Hadid? Read on for the highlights.
Congratulations on all the Emmy nominations! What are you going to wear on the big night? Can one French Tuck to the Emmys?
I think a Full Tuck is required for the Emmys. [Laughs] Here's the thing: It's not like the Grammys or something where it's a lot more casual or you could be a little more daring. It's probably going to be something respectable and relatively formal and classic.
Congratulations on season three of "Queer Eye," too. What's been the most surprising thing you've learned about the fashion in Kansas City, Mo. so far?
You know, I live in Salt Lake City, Utah, so this is no surprise. It's like any other relatively small city in America that I've been to. It's got everything I can get in Salt Lake City and if I can make it work in Salt Lake City, where I live — and still look the way I want to look — I think it's going to work great here. Also, we have the luxury of online shopping in 2018 — and I love to online shop — so ain't nothing going to restrict me here!
In season two, you worked with your first woman hero, Tammye. But we didn't get to see your shopping part — what happened?
I know! Even I'm confused about that. I've actually asked the producers what the heck happened. It's because there was so much story, there just wasn't time to fit in my scenes. And, to be fair, I'm the only one who gets a field trip every episode without fail. Sometimes Antoni's is cut. Sometimes Bobby's is cut. But in season two, other than that episode, my scene is never cut. I just hate that it was the only woman because I really did want to push forward the fact that just because you are a woman with curves, that doesn't mean you have to wear a frickin' sack. You can wear something form-fitting and show off those parts of your body that you love. [Note: He bought her black dress online.] So that I'm going to explore further in season three, for sure.
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Throughout your experience in seasons one and two, how did you find that delicate balance between promoting body positivity and teaching heroes how to wear clothes in a way that makes them think differently about their bodies?
It's something that I've done for myself. Ever since I was a little boy, I was always very, very, very skinny. It's something I don't love about my body and, therefore, I work out a lot to make sure I'm a bigger size than I naturally would be. I love body positivity, however — that doesn't mean that I don't think we can be a better version of ourselves. We can always be a better version of ourselves. If we stop making an effort, I think that we've probably given up and that's not a great thing. I don't know if it's necessarily a fine balance. I just think it's a case of work with what you have and do the best of your ability, but also strive for better. I don't think the perfect body is achievable or attainable. I don't think it's necessary, but just be the best version of yourself.
It's not necessarily that the clothes have to show the shape of your body. I do love an oversize moment, but I will team it with something that's more form-fitting. It's about balancing your proportions and highlighting the best parts of your body — the parts that make you feel great. Not what somebody else thinks is the best part of your body. What you see is the best part of your body. The parts that make you feel good about yourself.
My husband wanted me to tell you "thank you" because he loves the French Tuck. He's been French Tucking for the past two weeks.
That makes me happy. Tell him, don't do it with something too form-fitting though. I know that it's become kind of a joke, but I take it very seriously. I've been doing this French Tuck thing for at least 10 to 15 years now and it just makes me feel better that my proportions are right. I don't like showing the shape of my upper body. I work out a lot, but I like to keep things to the imagination. I like things oversized. When I French Tuck it, it changes up my proportions and it makes me feel cooler. It makes me feel like I'm balanced.
Do any of the other Fab Five come to you for style advice?
It's not that they come to me for style advice, but pretty much every shoot or every scene we do, they'll ask, "What do you think?" Most of them. Jonathan usually has his own thing going on and he definitely doesn't need my opinion. I'm the stylist's worst nightmare on photo shoots because they'll dress the boys and then the boys will come over and ask, "What do you think?" And if I give them a look, they'll go back to the stylist and say, "This isn't going to work. You're going to have to go back and change it." I'm very honest with my opinions, even if they don't ask for it.
Everyone, including fashion celebrities, have fallen in love with "Queer Eye." That being said: How did your friendship with Gigi Hadid start?
It was through another friend, Eva Chen, who is the former Editor-in-Chief of [Lucky and now Director of Fashion Partnerships at Instagram] and she's the connector of all people. Yeah, Gigi wanted to connect with me. I wanted to connect with her. Since then we've become great friends. She's an incredible, formidable woman.
Did you have, like, a blind-friend-date?
Yeah! Well, here's the thing: People who are getting to know me, they have a very unfair advantage, like they know me. On "Queer Eye," I'm not an actor. I've never taken an acting class. I don't know how to act. What you're seeing on the show is unabashedly me. People know whether they want to be my friend or not based on what they see on a TV show. Because it's not like any other — I've got the air quotes up — "reality show." We're an unscripted show and we're not overly produced. What we say is what we say. It's never reshot. It's never repositioned. If we said it, it's done. We move on. When people want to hang out with me, they know me very well already. It's my time to get to know them.
You must have lots of celebrities DM-ing you to be friends.
Who knew that's how famous people became friends? But they just DM, "Hey, I like the sound of you. You seem like you could be my friend," and that's how it happens.
Will you tell me which of your other celebrity friendships came out of a DM?
No, you know I can't! [Laughs] But you've seen me with them online. Quickly Google. You'll see. That's very easy to find out, I'm sure. I'm very lucky.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.