How Gok Wan put “feelgood” back into fashion

Jacqueline Wheeler explains why Gok Wan's makeover show is a winner every time

OK, I hope you don’t mind me getting a little directional here, but if it’s a fashiontabulous makeover show you’re after, seek no more. Gok Wan – the man who once “styled” a beach outfit from a woollen scarf and a tasselled curtain cord – is back to convince us that haute couture can be had for prices ending in .99.

The exuberant Gok has been beaming at us from the pages of the style mags for some time, but if you haven’t spotted him yet, he’s the latest in a line of eccentrically dressed TV experts who’s certain we’d all feel a lot happier in gladiator stilettos.

What’s fun about Gok Wan, though, is that he’s not totally adrift from reality, so his Channel 4 show, Gok’s Fashion Fix, is dedicated to modest budgets and average bodies.

The format – rather like a Gok Wan outfit – is a cheerful mishmash of familiar items thrown together with surprisingly successful results. Starting out in a suburban shopping centre filled, as ever, with hysterical women, Gok plucks a hopeless frump – or average person in the street as far as us viewers are concerned – from the crowds for that all-important makeover.

But unlike his sneering predecessors (Nicky Hambleton-Jones, Trinny and Susannah), Gok knows that playing the fashion dictator will only result in his protégée returning to the security of her tracky botts once the cameras have been turned off.

So, in between many warm embraces and shrieks of “Go, girl!”, Gok and his candidate take a moment to ponder the merits of, say, A-line or V-neck. It’s a very crafty sort of question-and-answer therapy session with our guru joyously applauding every correct response, and before long the former fashion disaster has moved from self-doubt to supreme confidence in her ability to – yes, really – dress herself!

Meanwhile, there are a couple of other threads on the go that are equally democratic in mood. The latest series opened with some male supermarket employees road-testing jeans. It’s a tribute to Gok’s endearing cheekiness that he managed to persuade so unlikely a bunch of blokes to pass judgement on crotch comfort and not weep at the shame of it.

But best of all is the designer v high street challenge, where Gok goes out and out to create a collection of affordable outfits that can compete on the catwalk with overpriced gear of the snooty boutique variety.

How funny, you think, as Gok’s bargain glad rags go shimmying out alongside the rival designer wear before the still hysterical women – there really is little difference. Proving that, when it comes to cheap being chic, Gok Wan’s a winner every time.