James May on clothing—

“…..Boilersuits are used by everybody from pilots in the army to racing drivers to people who clean your drains. The one piece overall is what all males secretly desire.”

Later, he will strip off in front of us all and put on his normal uniform of jeans and leather jacket, before talking for a while with his T-shirt stuck half way up his chest, as I desperately try to avert my eyes. This wouldn’t have happened with a boiler suit, and for that reason I concede that they probably are quite a good thing.

Anyway, what did he think of his first fashion show? “I felt very self-conscious and struggled not to giggle because it was all so terribly camp. It was very hard to do the catwalk face, and you have to go at the right speed. In the show I was watching earlier there were girls with very deadset expressions, so deadset that I got the impression that if I stood at the end of the runway with a revolver they would still keep coming, like zombies, and they wouldn’t stop until you got them between the eyes or something. They were coming down the catwalk like droids.”

The strange thing about James May is that for all the blokey bravado, I reckon he probably is quite in touch with his feminine side. He tells me he wants to learn to sew, and that he is fascinated by how clothes are made. He has his own wardrobe at the home he shares with his partner, the dance critic Sarah Frater (“we’re not married – we live in sin”). “Sarah has this thing she calls her magic wardrobe, from which things appear that I have never seen before. I think that magic wardrobe’s correct name might be Harvey Nichols.”

He says that he buys lots of things and then never wears them. I remark that this is very female. He looks terrified. “Is it?! Well I don’t do that then. I put the shirts on as soon as I leave the shop.” He seems to wear lots of floral shirts, and velvet jackets. What’s that all about, I ask. “I think it might be because I’m deeply inadequate. Or it might be simply that I like nice colourful things, like Lego.”

07 Jun 2011

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