9 September 1974
Leicester, Leicestershire, England, United Kingdom
|Residence||London, England, UK|
|Television||How to Look Good Naked
Gok's Fashion Fix
Miss Naked Beauty
Gok's Clothes Roadshow
Gok Cooks Chinese
This Morning (TV programme)
Gok Wan (born Ko-Hen Wan; Chinese: 溫國興; Cantonese Jyutping: Wan1 gwok3 hing3; 9 September 1974) is an English fashion consultant, author and television presenter, perhaps best known for his Channel 4 television programme How to Look Good Naked.
Initially training in the performing arts at the Central School of Speech and Drama, he then entered the fashion business, writing for popular fashion magazines and appearing on various television shows. In 2006, Channel 4 employed him to present his own television show, How to Look Good Naked, which lasted for three series. Moving into other genres, he presented a series of documentaries on social problems among young people, drawing on his personal experiences with obesity and homophobia.
Gok Wan was born Ko-Hen Wan in Leicester, England, to an English mother, Myra, and a Chinese father, John Tung Shing Wan, who was born in Hong Kong and emigrated to England at age 16. He grew up in Whetstone, Leicestershire, where he worked in his parents' restaurant. Wan stood out from his peers from a young age and endured bullying from other children due to the fact that he was mixed race, tall, overweight and gay.
During his teenage years he weighed as much as 21 stone (133 kg), later commenting that he was "really fat". He was drawn to performing arts with aspirations of becoming an actor, and after leaving Babington Community College he began attending a course at the Charles Keene College of Further Education. Wan received a diploma from the college, then enrolled at the Central School of Speech and Drama and continued to study performing arts. However, the other students had backgrounds very different from his and he felt that his weight was beginning to dictate his life, later saying:
"[It affected] everything: my personality, how people reacted to me, what I wore, everything. When you sit down with someone who's 21 stone you have certain expectations of what they're like: stupid, lazy or really funny."
He felt restricted and unhappy and eventually dropped out of the course, returning to live with his family.
Wan set about losing weight and at the age of 20 he began a crash diet, losing half his weight in several months. In his autobiography he includes a section from a calorie diary he kept at the time, revealing he survived for weeks on end on as little as fruit and honey. He also took up to 50 laxatives a day to prevent himself gaining weight from the little food he did consume. Wan reveals that during his diet he lacked energy and motivation; this, coupled with the stress of his course, sent him into depression. He states that he became suicidal around this time – "I fantasised about killing myself – I could see no other way out...I concluded that suicide was the only option." Wan never did attempt to kill himself, stating a fear that he would be unsuccessful and the attempt would be regarded as "just another failing". Upon dropping out of his course and returning home, he confessed his feelings to his family, and was diagnosed as suffering from anorexia by a doctor. Under the supervision of his family he began to eat more and slowly increased to a healthier weight. Despite the sudden change, he had no problem with having been overweight, later reflecting: "I don't regret having been fat at all. I know how to throw jokes at myself and I use humour before anything else, and those skills allow me to do the chatshows. So I'm thankful for that." He even lamented that, after losing weight, he had to try harder to attract attention, saying that his weight had, to an extent, defined him.
He has worked with many celebrities including Bryan Ferry, All Saints, Damian Lewis, Erasure, Vanessa Mae, Wade Robson, Lauren Laverne, Wet Wet Wet, and Johnny Vaughan. He has offered his opinions to magazines, becoming a fashion consultant, and his work has been published internationally in several magazines including Tatler, Glamour, Times Style, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, The Face, Afisha Mir, Clash and People. He has worked with photographers such as Rankin, Mike Owen and Jason Joyce. He has also worked as an "on-screen" fashion consultant on many television shows including: MTV Shakedown (MTV Europe), GMTV (ITV), LK Today (ITV), Big Brother's Little Brother (Channel 4), Battle of the Sexes (BBC1), The Wright Stuff (Five), Make Me a Grown Up (Channel 4/T4), The Xtra Factor (ITV2) and T4 (Channel 4).
In 2006, he was approached by Channel 4 and asked to present his own fashion show, How to Look Good Naked. In addition, he wrote a book to accompany the series, entitled How to Look Good Naked: Shop for Your Shape and Look Amazing!, that was published in April 2007. A second series was commissioned and was broadcast on Channel 4 in mid-2007. Along with the second series, he appeared on The New Paul O'Grady Show, in which he persuaded Paul O'Grady to strip "naked". A third series was shown in early 2008. In mid-2008, he presented Gok's Fashion Fix which was broadcast on Channel 4.
He wrote a book titled How to Dress: Your Complete Style Guide for Every Occasion which was released by HarperCollins on 1 October 2008. The book was praised by both Heat magazine and Closer for its sensitive and feel-good approach to a style guide. He also has a lingerie range at UK-based firm SimplyYours.
His next series Miss Naked Beauty, which he co-presented with Myleene Klass, was broadcast in October and November 2008. The series attracted controversy after Wan denigrated semi-naked women, causing critics to question the motives behind the series; journalist Amanda Platell described it as "vulgarity masquerading as self-help".
Wan presented a documentary which was first broadcast on 27 January 2009, entitled Too Fat Too Young, which examined overweight children in the UK. He reflected on his experience of being obese to help several teenagers. In 2010, he joined the celebrity panel on Channel 4's TV Book Club.
In 2011, he presented a series entitled Gok's Clothes RoadShow on Channel 4, which was criticised for its gimmicks and similarities to Wan's previous shows. In 2012 he starred in a new series entitled Gok's Teens: The Naked Truth on Channel 4 where he gave advice to teenagers about self-confidence, bullying, anxiety and eating disorders.
- Gok's Style Secrets, Channel 4 (2012)
- Hotel GB, Channel 4 (2012)
- Baggage, Channel 4 (2012)
- Gok Cooks Chinese, Channel 4 (2012)
- Made in China, Channel 4 (2012)
- Gok's Teens: The Naked Truth, Channel 4 (2012)
- Gok Wan: Too Fat Too Young, Channel 4 (2009)
- Gok’s Clothes Roadshow (2 series), Channel 4 (2011)
- Gok’s Fashion Fix (3 series), Channel 4 (2008–2010)
- How to Look Good Naked (6 series), Channel 4 (2008–2010)
- Sex and the City Premiere Special, Channel 4 (2010)
He currently resides in London. In 2009 he remarked that he had slept with "21 and a half" men in his life, and that he had also slept with women. In the same interview he also claimed that he had lost his virginity to another boy whilst they were both under the legal age of consent. His brother, Kwoklyn, is an accomplished martial artist who teaches Jeet Kune Do in Leicester. He also has an older sister, Oilen, who is a child-care solicitor.
Wan has been involved in various charitable projects, supporting anti-bullying charities Kidscape and Ditch the Label and launching a National Glasses Day with Specsavers to encourage everyone to wear their spectacles with pride. As part of Children in Need 2008, Gok treated the actors of Coronation Street 's Underworld factory to a glamorous makeover. Gok also appeared in Comic Relief Does The Apprentice in March 2009. In 2014, he was named in the top 10 on the World Pride Power list.
Wan has enjoyed dragon boat training with the Raging Dragons, and episode 3 of Gok Cooks Chinese features them paddling together in Royal Albert Dock and eating dim sum in Yiban Chinese restaurant.
- "Profile: Gok Wan". The Sunday Times. London. 26 October 2008. Retrieved 28 October 2008.
- "Gok Wan on Ditch the Label – Bullied for Being Gay, Overweight and Chinese". Ditch the Label. UK. 12 February 2013. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
- Freeman, Hadley (21 October 2008). "We are all beautiful!". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 21 October 2008.
- Nathan, Sarah (14 May 2007). "TV Wan: I used to be a fatty". The Sun. UK. Retrieved 10 February 2008.
- "How to Dress: Your Complete Style Guide for Every Occasion (Hardcover)". Amazon.com. Retrieved 21 October 2008.
- Howden, Sarah (28 August 2008). "Gok Wan's gonna squeeze you in to shape". The Scotsman. UK. Retrieved 21 October 2008.
- "Miss Naked Beauty". UK: Channel 4. Retrieved 20 October 2008.
- "TV Book Club opens a new chapter". Western Telegraph. Newsquest. 28 December 2009. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
- Heritage, Stuart (25 January 2011). "Is Gok's Clothes Roadshow a catwalk too far?". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
- "Gok's Teens: The Naked Truth". Channel 4. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
- "Baggage". Channel 4. Retrieved 30 September 2012.
- "Gok Wan joins Channel 4's Royal Ascot team as fashion presenter". Channel 4. 3 June 2014. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
- Cooke, Rachel (2007-11-04). "In Gok we trust". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 July 2007.
- "Gok Wan: How I told my parents I was gay". London Evening Standard. UK. 3 August 2009. Retrieved 9 October 2010.
- Jackson, Lesley (2011). "Kwoklyn Wan Organiser of the Martial Arts Festival". Martial Edge. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
- Abrams, Corrine (2 May 2008). "Video: Gok Wan on finding glasses for your face shape". The Times. London. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- "BBC Children In Need set for record". Metro. 15 November 2008. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- "World Pride Power List 2014". The Guardian.
- "Gok Cooks Chinese - Series 1: Episode 3". Channel 4. 4 June 2012. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
- Official website
- Biography at Channel 4's How to Look Good Naked
- Interview with BBC Leicester
- Interview with The Observer
- Gok Wan at the Internet Movie Database
- Q&A with Wan