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Working with Gok Wan - Part Two

Written by Jackie O'Fee on June 6th, 2012.      1 comments

Here is Part Two of “Working with Gok Wan” – It’s all about the preparation. There are unfortunately no action shots to add to this post - we were simply too busy to take any!

Monday arrives. I’ve got to admit, a sleeping pill helped me see it in better spirits. I leave home early so I can get to the Albany boardroom ahead of Thuy, who is due to arrive at 9am. I get there around 8:15am, and Jody is already in place putting finishing touches to the outfits we’ve created for the winners of the Westfield “Win a Makeover with Gok”.  We’ve also got three pre-approved (but with suggestions) outfits ready to go for some “models” for his appearance on TVNZs ‘Good Morning’ show, which is scheduled for first thing Tuesday morning. We’ve also gathered a few pieces as props / talking points for his scheduled TV interviews.  As with absolutely everything else, these need to be presented to Gok for his approval. Although it was geographically impossible for him to do the actual styling, I have to say I am completely impressed by his total “hands on” approach. There will be nothing appearing in any of the shows that he doesn’t like or hasn’t seen. Given the logistics of this whole tour, that is pretty amazing.

Thuy arrives, diminutive but elegant in a gorgeous lace dress (I wonder if it’s Louis Vuitton but I’m too terrified to ask). We hug hello – after all, there’s been loads of communication between us over the past couple of months, and we feel like we know each other well. Together Jody, Thuy and I shift the boardroom table so there is more floor space. Thuy quickly starts pulling some of our outfits from the racks and laying these on the floor. She takes other outfits and re-styles them to suit the more pared down ethos that Gok has been exhibiting in his Australian shows. It might surprise you but we are completely happy with this – this is someone who has worked with Gok for a number of years, plus has recent knowledge of where he is currently coming from. We have styled up more than enough options knowing that many would be re-worked or perhaps not even used. We’ve also been warned that Gok could arrive and hate everything, so hey, if Thuy likes it – he’s more likely to like it, too.

Thuy feels Cue’s current collection is perfect for what Gok is using (his own fashion collection for Sainsburys’ in the UK is very similar – if a lot cheaper) and has an appointment to borrow from the Albany store at 10am, plus she’s also arranged with Equip for us to borrow more jewellery and accessories. I guess we never thought to grab pearls!

We race around gathering last minute bits and pieces before Gok is scheduled to arrive at 3:30pm. Reports (via Twitter and a request for a driver) come in that Gok is shopping in the city. Zambesi is a particular favourite of his, and he was definitely intending to visit their Britomart store.

At around 1pm I switch from ‘stylist’ mode to ‘show Stylist/MC’ mode. I’m hosting the pre-show each day and entertaining the crowd who will be waiting for Gok, as well as explaining what’s happening in each centre and demonstrating the Westfield Body Shape calculator live on stage. Yes, I’m aware that I’m the ‘support act’ and have mounting fears that everyone will start shouting at me   “Get  off – we want Gok!” Anyway, I have a script to learn before our first rehearsal is scheduled for 6pm.  I leave so I can focus on my script.
Back at around 3pm, Jody and Thuy have been working hard finalising looks to show Gok. We’re waiting for him. And waiting. And still waiting. Finally, at around 4:50pm we hear “He’s here!” There’s a collective intake of breath – this is something I’ve never experienced, it seems everyone is nervous. I race to the loo (I know – the WORST timing) while everyone stands around the boardroom.

When I get back to the boardroom he’s already chatting to Thuy, asking her questions about how things are with her like a long, lost friend. He’s tall – around 6 foot, and leaning fairly heavily on a cane. Finally she takes him through the looks she’s laid out. He hates around half of them and begins describing why he doesn’t like them. Then he asks Jody and me to show him the outfits we’ve created for the TV segment on Good Morning the next day, for the TV interviews and for the makeover winners.  It’s terrifying. We stumble through and he actually says “I’m not that scary am I?” So, I try to tease him a little “I did some research and I know you love...”. Hmm. He smiles, is totally sweet and COMPLETELY charming but I feel awkward. This man is a HUGE star.  Then he begins; “Yes, that’s cool, but can you get me it in a different colour?” “I want just a simple vest here instead of that blouse and I think we need a really chunky boot as well” “Can you get me that in black?” I show him a black alternative from the racks, “No, that looks like a curtain”. Jody is likewise given a long list of instructions. It’s now 5:20pm. Westfield Albany closes at 6pm. We run.

Around 5:40pm I’m summonsed back to the boardroom – Gok has found a dress he really loves in the racks – ironically it’s a piece we’d gathered as a prop for his TV interviews. He now wants to use it on his Good Morning model tomorrow morning. Easy, except the dress is a size 8 and the model is a size 12. It’s also a Veronika Maine dress – available only at St Lukes and Two Double Seven. Right. We ring the Newmarket store and at the same time arrange for someone from Westfield head office to collect it (a security guard, actually).  The dress will then be collected from Westfield head office and taken to The Langham (via the Florence and the Machine concert), in time for the morning’s filming. We also now need to replace this ‘prop’. With less than 15 minutes until stores close, I go off running again.  I’d like to think that perhaps Gok thought the stores in Westfield might have been open until 10pm, or maybe he just didn’t think about it at all but I am almost certain he didn’t realise the huge time pressure he was putting on us. Maybe he did – but with so much charm we were totally into it.  At one point as Jody and I looked at each other and smilingly raised our eyebrows, we agreed that these would be our “War Stories”. We were freaking out but loving it!
Stylists work for Gok Wan
The stage is set - rehearsals are done - tomorrow is SHOWTIME!
Around 8pm I go downstairs to rehearse. The Australian based show crew are incredibly complimentary about me – apparently I’m the “Best Stylist/MC they’ve had on any tour”. Feeling a little bit proud I head back to the boardroom, where Jody and Thuy are checking and re-taping shoes, finalising new outfits etc. I pack up the garments we’ll need for the TV segment the next morning, arrange to pick Thuy up at her hotel at 7:15am to be at TVNZ by 7:30am and head home around 9:30pm. Yet another huge day – but my first huge star! 


Tracey says ...
Wow Jackie what an amazing ride you have been on with this project.

Such a shame we will never get to see all the shows on tele!

Hope you have had some time off to recover - although I am guessing probably not!


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