Essex-based Joey Bevan is a gay queer fashion stylist and designer, mostly known for his activism with LGBTQ, body positive and mental issues. And also for his appearance on BBC’s “You Are What You Wear” hosted by Rylan Clark.
Joey has seen his work featured on the X Factor and Britain’s Next Top Model Live, and in 2014 he was lucky enough to be commissioned to create 30 bespoke garments for the Queen’s Coronation Festival at Buckingham Palace. His celebrity clients have included Little Mix, Jessie J, and Lady Gaga and also known for his work with Ru Paul’s Drag Race royalty Shea Coulee and Manila Luzon.
Alongside his love for fashion styling, Joey is also passionate about cooking and has his own food blog (@thestylishhomecook). Joey came to YASS Magazine and we talked about everything!
Who is Joey Bevan and how do you identify?
Hey I’m Joey Bevan of course… there’s only one of me (thank goodness!). I am a fashion stylist and designer and I am proud to identify as a gay, queer man and my pronouns are he, his and him.
How did your career start? When did you realise you wanted to become a fashion stylist and designer?
I’ve always wanted to be in fashion for as long as I can remember, I used to cut up socks and underwear to create looks for my sisters barbie dolls. I once transformed Limited Edition boxed Disney princess dolls into the Spice Girls in 1995 for my little sister…my parents were not too happy as they were collectors’ items but my sister love her new Spice-Disney dolls.
Do you design clothes? What is the style of your clothes?
I am mainly a fashion stylist , but I studied fashion design. I can pattern cut, sew and make pretty much anything and my own designs are mostly womenswear pieces recycled from unwanted materials. I take inspiration from film, history, empowering females and a whole lot of drama! The press say I’m a cross between Westwood and McQueen and I’m not talking about Tim or Layla haha!
Is it easy or difficult for an out LGBTQ+ professional to be part of the fashion industry?
It’s been a mix of both which can be really tough but then I remember… the gays are the foundations of the fashion world! Most of the top designers, MUAs and hairstylists are part of the LGBTQ+ community. It’s mostly cultural elements which create discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in the industry, yet most fashion models we see wear clothes inspired by queer talent, have contoured faces and over drawn lips and I wonder what inspired that…hello…DRAG!
Have you received any discrimination?
I have yes. I worked as a Wardrobe Director on a popular TV show that had an Asian / Middle Eastern audience, and in the first season I felt I had to hide the fact I was a homosexual. But when I returned for the second season, I decided to show my authentic self and speak freely about my sexuality. I was trolled and threatened daily as a result, receiving awful messages on social media which was really difficult. However, on the flip side I was getting thousands of supportive messages from closeted fans of the show about how I’d inspired them, most of whom were from areas and communities where homosexuality was discouraged, and, shockingly, illegalised. It was amazing to read these kind messages but equally so heart-breaking. Since then, I have set up an Instagram group for all those individuals to have a safe space to talk openly and freely – it’s been great to stay connected.
What advice would you give to young people who would love to follow their dream in the fashion industry?
GO FOR IT! Stop with the excuses, give it a go! I tried twice and failed and it was third time lucky for me. You always hear this from the queens on Drag Race how they applied and applied and never got chosen, until one day! It’s a hard industry to crack and I think it was Nina West who said it – educate yourself , assist assist assist – it’s the best advice to give. I learnt more in the first three months of assisting then I did throughout my whole fashion education!
How has this pandemic affected you and your work?
I haven’t been able to work for three months, like so many. I think it’s effected all the creative industries – it’s hard and I’ll be real with you, I’ve had to use my savings to live off during this time. I had some big jobs cancelled within a week of lockdown which set me back but the pandemic has hit us all so we have to adapt and do our best. It’s been sad to see so many of my creative friends suffer, the models, actors, MUAs, crews, hairstylists – the list goes on! The arts mean everything to me, and I’ve sacrificed so much to get to where I am now so it is upsetting to see the impact from the current climate. I’m proud to have come from humble beginnings which has kept me grounded but I have found it hard. I know everyone says ‘we’re all in the same boat’ but in my opinion it’s more like this…we are all in the same storm, but we are on different boats, some are on cruise liners and some of us are in a dingy!
How’s your daily life since the lockdown started?
Well, I have asthma so was advised to shield, therefore I spent 13 long weeks inside my flat without leaving – it’s the closest I will ever get to Big Brother for sure! My lockdown has been good if I’m honest, I’ve started growing plants and vegetables and had so much time to just work on myself and it’s helped me to become a better person. I’ve just got on with it and stuck to the rules hoping it’s all over soon!
How was your experience in “You Are What You Wear”?
I absolutely loved it.. the crew were amazing, such a nice group of loving and diverse people, I had such a blast! Also, we filmed in Manchester for just over two weeks, so I got to hit Canal Street and dance my life away to club classic from my teens!
How is it working with Rylan?
I’ve known Rylan for donkeys years. We are both Essex boys and used to hang out when we younger before the days of fame. He is a babe. What you see is what you get with him – he is just a lovely guy! Always a laugh and when you chuck us together we are the definition of Essex… I’m surprised people understood our accents!
You work has been featured on the X-Factor and at Britain’s Next Top Model Live, you have been commissioned to create 30 bespoke garments for the Queen’s Coronation Festival at Buckingham Palace you have worked with clients such as Little Mix, Jessie J, and Lady Gaga and have collaborated with brands such as L’Oréal, Urban Decay and Disney. Which of these moments is the most iconic and enjoyable for you and how were these experiences?
It has to be the Queen’s Coronation Festival – as my mates say ‘this queen met the most famous queen!’ She was lovely and I think the council estate boy inside me just felt proud he was meeting members of the royal family. I felt like Jack in Titanic when he has dinner in first class! Without sounding big-headed, I am incredibly proud of what I’ve achieved.
You have also collaborated with Shea Coulee and Manila Luzon. Is it different to work with drag queens?
The banter, the looks, the fun, the play on gender – it’s completely different but I love it! For me, Shea is one of my favourite clients …that b*tch just gets my fashion juices flowing! Did you see that pole dance on All Stars?! It gave me LIFE! I swear I danced around a broom for two days after that thinking I was a drag stripper. Shea is also an incredible activist for queer and BLM movements and a powerful black talent. Manila is hilarious – again exactly how she comes across on the show. She is a mega babe, so much fun and not afraid to clash sexy and funny!
How do Shea and Manila differ when it comes to fashion and working together?
Shea is more inspired by classic black legends throughout history, she plays on gender roles and just oozes black opulence. I’ve learnt more about black history from Shea than ever from actual education. Manila just runs with fun a lot more, her looks are more a play on high fashion with a nod to humour. When I styled her for an Erotica inspired shoot, she went for it… we played with a Moschino inspired aesthetic and the final shots gagged me!
Who is the most well-dressed person in the fashion industry at the moment?
Oh that’s a hard question, I have a few! Billy Porter just gets it and has fun with it, whilst delivering show-stopping glamour, exciting plays on gender and every look has a message. Tracee Ellis Ross also just knows how to dress and really plays with colour – she also embraces her colour and black history, I simply adore her. But the QUEEN of fashion in my opinion, has to be Celine Dion – that girl knows fashion, I think if you cut her she would bleed couture.
What are the biggest fashion trends now and what style advice would you give to people who start to go back to their normal lives after the pandemic?
The 80s are huge right now and I LOVE the 80s. The modern take on this era is just perfection – think neon and bright popping colours, new romantic, gender play, power suits, puff sleeves – I’m getting aroused just thinking about it! If you want inspiration, you must watch Pose. For me, if lockdown has taught me anything it’s that I don’t care what people think. Dress for you, and do you! Just match the outside with who you are on the inside. Your clothes should give people an idea of your personality without saying a word! (He says this whilst just wearing a pair of swimming shorts)
Who do you consider your role models and where do you find your inspiration?
Jean Paul Gaultier, a trillion percent. Literally remember being a closeted teen in the 90s and staying up to watch euro trash just in case JPG would be on it!
What are your future plans?
Covid-19 has changed a lot of things but of course I’ll be continuing to do what I do best.. more TV work and living my best fashion life. I wouldn’t mind meeting a nice guy, falling in love and getting married of course! I want to be a dad so would love to adopt and get more sausage dogs for sure – one sausage is not enough!
What makes you scream “YASS”?
Free food, summer days, record player vinyl’s, rugby players, straight allies and living your authentic self!
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