In the less than six months since Netflix’s “Queer Eye” reboot premiered, the members of the show’s new Fab Five have gone from relative unknowns to reality-TV superstars — and none more so than fashion expert Tan France.
With his earnest manner and salt-and-pepper coif, the show’s 35-year-old style pro has racked up 1.5 million Instagram followers since his “Queer Eye” debut. And despite being a novice to the photo-sharing app, France frequently uses it to communicate directly with the show’s vast fanbase, answering their fashion questions and offering advice.
Page Six hopped on the phone with France, who’s currently working with the Men’s Wearhouse Suit Drive to help dress people reentering the workforce, to discuss how he tackles all those fan DMs, helping his pal Pete Davidson prep for his wedding to Ariana Grande and more.
Page Six: All of the Fab Five are Instagram superstars, but it seems like you’re particularly active on the platform. Have you always been so open on social media?
Tan France: It’s so funny — I actually didn’t really use Instagram until just before the show launched! I had a private account I’d post on like once every three or four months, but when I got “Queer Eye,” they asked me to make a public one.
On average, I get about 800 to 1,200 DMs a day. I used to respond to every single one, but it’s gotten to a point where I have to randomly choose just a handful! I don’t want to be one of those people who’s always on their phone, so I limit myself to checking Instagram for about five minutes every couple of hours.
Karamo Brown, Bobby Berk, Antoni Porowski, Tan France and Jonathan Van Ness of “Queer Eye”Getty Images
You single-handedly launched the “French tuck” craze. Do you get lots of fans stopping you to show off their shirts?
Constantly. I was so shocked that the French tuck [in which the shirt is tucked in the front but left loose in the back] caught on even more than short-sleeved floral printed shirts, which were sort of my thing in season 1. It’s so weird to walk down the street in any major city — New York, LA, London — and have people stop me and say, “I’m wearing a French tuck!”
I’ve gotten literally thousands of DMs from people showing me how they wear it, too. It’s weird when something you’ve done for so long is impacting so many people across the world.
What’s great is that you don’t need to spend money to do it; you can do it with a Walmart T-shirt! And even people with different traditional clothing are doing it, not just Western clothing. It’s a universal styling trick.
“Queer Eye” is up for four Emmys — congrats! Do you have your red carpet look planned out yet?
[Laughs] No, no, it’s only been a few days [since nominations were announced]. It still feels very surreal. I just know [my outfit] is going to be relatively classic. I think it’s better to go formal than outlandish — it’s not the Grammys!
Anyone you’re especially excited to meet at the ceremony?
Oh, easy: Claire Foy from “The Crown.” I’m obsessed. I love everything about that show. It’s one of my favorites, for sure.
You’re helping your friend Pete Davidson shop for his upcoming wedding to Ariana Grande. What would you like to see them wear down the aisle?
I would like to see [Davidson] wear his version of swag. Probably not a tux! I don’t want to see him in a neutral, regular tux — he’s way too cool for that.
And you know whatever [Grande] wears is going to be epic. She’d look great in everything. And she must have every designer in the world clamoring to dress her — I know that if I were a designer, I would be!
I really couldn’t be happier for those two; I love when friends get together and romance follows. And you know, when I got together with my partner [illustrator Rob France] we decided to get married after just a few dates — and we’ve been married for 10 years!
Even though “Queer Eye” fans have just finished binging season 2, we’re already chomping at the bit for the third. Any hopes for Season 3?
I’d love to be able to work with more women, and to push body positivity. I was a womenswear designer for many years, so I know women’s bodies — that sounds weird, but it’s true. And there are some archaic styling practices when it comes to dressing women that I don’t love, that can make them feel bad about themselves.
For instance, you didn’t get to see me take Tammye shopping in [season 2, episode 1], but the dress I put her in I think people expected me to put her in something A-line to hide her curves, but I wanted to put her in body-con. Baby, let’s show off those curves!
I wish Netflix would just release the unedited, complete footage of each “Queer Eye” makeover so we could see moments like that.
They’d be 12- to 15-hour episodes! [Laughs] But we do have some diehard fans, and I’m sure they’d watch.
Season 3 of “Queer Eye” will premiere in 2019.