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beauty queens

When it came to the costumes, Maria, the costume designer, Chowee and I had a field day.

Fashion is very important to many gay men and in this film particularly, the costumes and styling is vital to the characterisation.


For Ash, his wardrobe shows that he is a hopeless romantic – rainbow colour knitted-top, silver turtle neck, lilac ruffled shirt and an over-the-top fuschia dressing gown with pearls sewn in. This is a character who lives in a world of old movies. A time when men behaved like men and women behaved like ladies. We gave him a lot of bold primary colours which reflected his emotional personality. Many of his clothes are vintage- a sure sign of someone who is nostalgic, remembering with great fondness the heydays of their bygone years. To source for Ash’s wardrobe we used a lot of clothes from our past. Most of them were literally just a step away! A step up onto the ladder into the attic and voila, his wardrobe was almost complete. The rest were dug out from our friends’ locked trunks. For every gay man has a secret wardrobe lurking somewhere, hiding fashion mistakes they once thought made them the bees knees but no longer dare wear in public. It was from these secret wardrobes we completed Ash’s outfits.

The red fringed dress that Ash wears when he meets Ross at the trannie club has a rather salubrious history. It once belonged to Madam Jojo and is part of the collection that Chowee inherited from the Madam herself when she retired in the early 90’s. These frocks were ‘engineered” by Casper Wilde to transform pecs into a plunging cleavage. They were designed to be manhandled by showgirls so they stood up exceedingly well to the rigours of the shoot.

For Mel, we had to go a little further. Mel is a product of the 80’s who hasn’t left his glory days behind. He still wears clothes with an 80’s nouveau riche feel, a time when material possessions were the most bankable labels. The idea is everything Mel wore could be bought for less but he would only wear them if they had a couple more zeros on the price tag. It all served to highlight his insecurities. Perhaps for a little Chinese boy lost in a big city, power dressing helped him find his way.

A lot of black and grey were chosen for Mel’s outfits and on closer examination, many with a distress signal: a bloody teddy bear T-shirt, an evil Mickey mouse jumper, a rhinestone studded skull top – a sure sign of someone who is cynical. To source his wardrobe, we ventured from New York to Shenzen.

Yes, Shenzen in China where fake goods are plentiful. The gaudy and ostentatious watch Mel gave Todd is fake and Todd possibly knew it after having spent a few months in London! Our budget couldn’t stretch to the real McCoy, so Shenzen provided the solution. And New York? Because we have friends there who still dress like that! Scary?! Well, a Chinese boy in a big city…I told you!