Stand Up and be Counted

New Zealand Herald/Viva Fashion/May 3, 2000 /By Fiona Hawtin

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Where gender is for bending


The Louis Vuitton stilettos are killing Eddie Izzard. But the British stand-up comedian can take it.

"I’ve been on a lot of courses dealing with pain," he says as we coax his petite feet into the sexy, killer shoes for this fashion shoot.

Izzard’s well used to them. He arrived in super-vixen Versace boots so death-defyingly high, only the most advanced heel-wearers could attempt such a degree of difficulty. You just have to give up walking for a day in between, he says.

While he happily wears women’s shoes and clothes, there are limits. Izzard is taking time out to discover New Zealand fashion, hot on the heels of a sellout season in Auckland with the TV2 International Laugh!Festival.

Among the selection of men’s and women’s clothes we rounded up for the shoot, Izzard, the heterosexual transvestite/male lesbian, dismissed the frock that was all silver sparkles and thigh-high splits immediately: "I don’t do drag."

But women’s clothes and makeup are part of his sexuality. He also wears them because, on shopping excursions, he finds menswear dull.

"I go shopping for what people call women’s clothes, but I try not to sex clothes. Women have got a lot more interesting clothes."

In his hilarious stage voice he sums up menswear, "I’ve got a white shirt, I’ve got jeans, I’ve got trousers, I’ve got chinos."

Because his wardrobe is much more than that, Izzard admits to making some big fashion mistakes. Such as the shiny, red bomber jacket he only realised was "crap" when everyone told him as much. Or the time he spent days looking for a special outfit and ended up with a white pinstripe suit with Nehru collar and safari-style back.

Being a transvestite has made him much more susceptible to making such mistakes. "You don’t get the practice. You can’t go into a shop and ask their advice so, before you come out, you go to op shops."

Plus, fashion intimidates him. "I have to fight to keep up. Fashion’s constantly changing and therefore you have to be very plugged into fashion all the time and I’m not. I’m plugged into history, the space-time continuum, politics and film. Fashion isn’t my central point."

So the self-professed male tomboy buys lots of his favourite designer, Jean-Paul Gaultier.

"He’s got a sense of humour and he has that girl/boy thing worked out."

And lots of black. His advice to Viva readers – wear black. "Mix it with black. If in doubt, wear black. If you aren’t feeling good, wear black. If you are feeling good, wear tighter black."

Except we know in fashion, there are no rules. Which could explain why, among other pieces, he snapped up Marilyn Sainty’s red skirt.

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