Top, Middle or Bottom? Michael Barrymore hits London Fashion Week!
Inspired by his pet dog, Michael Barrymore launches his first ever clothing range…
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Strong white wine and dog-shaped biscuits circulate on trays as a group of tabloid hacks, fashion junkies and personal friends to Michael Barrymore assemble in the refreshingly low-lit basement bar of the Westbury Hotel. We’re here to mark the launch of Michael’s first menswear range Made By Dave.
Dave is the name of Michael Barrymore’s Jack Russell, the endearing canine companion who stood by Michael during his unenviable years of drug addiction, depression and lashings of tabloid hell.
“There’s no point in me denying that I’ve had problems” admits a healthy and tanned Michael, taking to the stage in an open-button dress shirt, his nickel hair gleaming. “It was Dave by my side when I had relapses, helping me to get out of bed because he needed feeding or needed a walk”
The dog in question is present at the event, paraded around on a black lead by a suited gentleman. “Are you Dave’s full-time chaperone?” one guest asks. “No, no” he chuckles “but I’ve been a friend of Michael’s since before you were born!”
Witty, honest and crushingly self-deprecating, the crowd chuckle gingerly throughout Michael’s adlib speech in which he haggles with the staff of the Westbury hotel to foot the evening’s bar tab – “Come on, back when I was using I had to pay for it, now I don’t drink and all these journalists are drinking booze in your hotel, I’m doing you guys a favour! Are there any journalists in the house tonight? Who cares. I won’t be listening in.”
Michael cannot help but banter with his attentive audience. In exactly the same manner in which he would once upon a time fool around with contestants on his TV game shows, Michael picks out London fashion stylist Nini Khatiblou who happens to be standing near the front and tries to set her up with the male model who features in the Made By Dave look-book (pictured).
“You’re a good looking girl. Honestly, being gay was just a publicity stunt for me. I remember looking at my partner in bed and saying ‘Are you still here? What’s going on? You were just a publicity stunt ten years ago mate!’”
Despite his seemingly unending battle with depression, Michael is on top form tonight. His God-sent showmanship and social flare is evident to all. Without a hint of fashionesque reticence or snobbery Michael circulates the crowd, personally greeting everyone, asking where they come from and who they work for. If this is a mere attempt to weigh-up the possibility of tomorrow’s tabloid shitstorm it doesn’t show as he shakes everyone’s hand and indulges them in a masterfully-timed bundled of warm small talk.
The collection of clothes are on display at the party. The ever-so-slightly worrying EDL-esque slogan “We’re PROUD to be made in GREAT BRITAIN” is softened by Michael’s introductory speech in which he endearingly names the specific towns and tailors who are behind each garment.
Polo shirts, smart shoes and cricket jumpers, the Made By Dave collection is fittingly wintry and surprisingly sexy, if not an incy bit bumpkinish. One can imagine Michael himself selecting the individual items, envisaging them on the broad shoulders, pert arses and sculpted feet of fantasy Essex boys.
Anyone who attended tonight looking for a new jibe or angle into Michael’s myriad of unresolved nightmares will have gone home with an empty Dictaphone. Michael exuberated with a gentle confidence and genuine wit that demonstrated to the younger guests present why this man was once ITV’s highest paid presenter.
“I’m skint by the way. Just going to put that out there” Michael tells his Sauvignon-sipping crowd. “I may as well get everything off my chest. I haven’t been out the house in ten years!”
"Why is the collection called Made By Dave?" someone asks.
“Because he chews the bottom of my jeans, and one day somebody said to me ‘They’re nice jeans Michael – where did you get them from?’ and I said ‘They’re made by Dave’. Dave doesn’t live with me. I live with Dave”
The aforementioned free bar closes rather abruptly at 8pm and guests are donned with orange cupcakes, each crested with the Made By Dave logo. Michael bids farewell to his guests, offering to each that hovering smile that had a generation hooked on him.
I believe it was David Hockney who recently said that in today’s world of spite and pornography there is nothing more controversial now than genuine sentiment, and it is this type of controversy that (Sir) Michael Barrymore now basks in.
As we are gently ushered out of the Westbury Hotel guests are left with a sense of wanting more. Those who made jokes about the clothing line’s lack of swimwear are forced to eat humble cupcake and reflect. The Made By Dave range signifies not only Michael Barrymore’s first splash into fashion but also his return to the public eye, a welcome return for those of us who have missed his exuberating, frank and fatherly style.
Aware of his need to throw some sort of scraps at the hacks, Michael gives us a couple of faintly newsworthy parting shots – Firstly that he has a pending phone hacking enquiry, and secondly that his clothing range is about to be snapped up by someone senior and that he’s had a phone call from one of fashion’s higher echelons.
It’s 8.13pm, rain lashes the glass doors of the Westbury hotel, Soho beckons, and Tuesday night continues.
Take a look at the clothes and shop the Made By Dave look on the official website
Words: Jack Cullen (@JackcullenUK)
Follow Michael Barrymore on Twitter (@MrBarrymore)