If you have scrolled through online party pages or picked up a men’s fashion magazine anytime in the last decade, chances are you will have seen Jack Guinness’s smouldering good looks peering back at you.
He’s spent a decade modelling for some of the biggest brands in the business, and is now becoming a brand in his own right; parlaying his talents into the worlds of both online publishing and presenting.
In real life, Guinness is as gorgeously chiselled and cheeky as he appears in magazines. He is also gay, a fact he kept private until very recently.
“With the type of modelling I do I was selling a very specific, narrow type of masculinity. In the beginning there was this sense I shouldn’t tell brands about being gay, so I just didn’t discuss my personal life,” he explains. “People meet me and they’re like ‘oh you’re quite camp!’ but in photos I really man up.”
Tides are, thankfully, changing and nowadays brands clamour to work with him because of his sexual orientation, not in spite of it. He’s a UK ambassador for Levi’s, and stars in the campaign for their annual Pride collection this year (10 per cent of the sales of which go to the Harvey Milk Foundation).
For him, the Pride March on Saturday is important because, “we are marching for the people around the world that can’t and we are marching for people in the United Kingdom that can’t for whatever reason.”
He stresses, “There’s a really important political aspect.”
He also advises retailers against making token gestures with the rainbow motif. “It was really interesting walking around London today. Every shop has a Pride flag in the window, but it’s not ‘meaningful involvement’,” he says. “A dog’s not just for Christmas and gay people are not just for Pride!”
In addition to marching and modelling, Guinness has made a very serious contribution to the canon of queer literature with The Queer Bible, a beautiful online magazine he launched in December 2017 in which queer writers and illustrators discuss their heroes.
He had been mulling the idea over since 2016, when he watched Sam Smith land himself in hot water at the Oscars for getting confused about when the first openly gay man to win an Oscar had been. “I suddenly thought, do I know my gay history? And if I don’t, where would I go online to find it? So I launched my own website,” he says. “I wanted it to be fun and interesting, and as cool as the gay people you’re learning about.”
We caught up with Jack ahead of Pride to find out about his fashion and grooming routine.
Which Levi’s jeans do you wear?
I used to wear 501s and I’ve recently started wearing 502s, which have a slightly wider leg. Skinny jeans are over guys, go wide leg! That’s the look.
I watch Love Island and I throw stuff at the TV – why are those guys wearing spray-on, horrible skinny jeans?!
What’s the one item of clothing you would never wear?
Spray on jeans, 100 per cent. And I’d never wear one of those really long t-shirts that the guys on Love Island wear. The ones with a low-cut ‘V’. I’ll wear anything but I won’t wear that!
Who’s your favourite tailor?
It depends what for. I love old school Savile Row brands. Huntsman are incredible. You go in there and they’ve got this old heritage room where they’ve dressed kings, it’s incredible. But I also like more up-and-coming tailors as well. Britain has the coolest young designers. Between them and Savile Row, we’ve got everything covered when it comes to menswear.
Who do you look forward to seeing at Fashion week?
There’s a young designer called Charles Jeffrey with a brand called Loverboy. His shows are like theatre. They’re completely bonkers but they’re the best of British. They’re so eccentric but then they also have incredible tailoring. For me, he reminds me of the designers I fell in love with when I was a teenager – Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen and Galliano.
Fashion should be fun. People take themselves too seriously. Fashion is about expressing who you are – telling the world who you are – and having fun with it. I think British people are brilliant at that.
I remember someone once told me that French people dress to laugh at other people and English people dress to laugh at themselves. And we do!
Whether it’s a cool kid walking in east London in experimental streetwear, or some posh old man on the King’s Road with salmon chinos and a pocket watch looking completely bonkers, British people have a lot of fun with their clothes, and so they should.
What are your thoughts on the rainbow print clothes brands are doing for Pride?
I think the rainbow is great, it’s a really positive message. But fundamentally whatever you’re wearing you still want to look good. The jacket in the Pride range that Levi’s have done that says ‘I can see the future’ with a big rainbow lightning bolt just looks sick; it’s like a vintage piece from the ’70s.
What will you wear to Pride?
Well, it will be very hot. I might need some rainbow shorts.
Who cuts your hair?
Two people. Not at the same time. Larry King, he cuts David Gandy’s hair and a lot of the other models, but he’s a very busy man, so I also get my hair cut by Alex Brownsell, who runs the Bleach brand. The only annoying thing about someone being brilliant at cutting your hair is they’re never around!
Who cuts your beard?
An amazing Iranian guy at the end of my road. He’s been there for about 30 years and he’s brilliant. I go there and hear all the local gossip.
Tell me about your beard routine?
I’m very low maintenance with my beard. I think as a rule you shouldn’t put too much effort into a beard, because it’s a beard. It’s quite cave man.
Do you brush it?
No, that’s creepy. I just don’t like the idea of someone creepily combing their beard with a small brush.
Do you get facials? And if so where?
I am not against a facial. I am a modern man. There is nothing wrong with getting facials more men should get them.
There’s this amazing place called Pffefer Sal in Fitzrovia. They are incredible. You know when you go to some places and they’re just trying to sell you products? They’re not like that. They’re like scientists. It’s brilliant, it’s in this strange underground space which feels like you’re in a monastery or something. Very calming. A temple to skin.
Describe your skincare routine?
I cleanse and moisturise. Because I used to have really bad skin I’ve always done it. All my friends think I’ve had Botox because I don’t really have wrinkles. But I haven’t. I just started a good skincare routine really young.
I also just don’t think I move my face very much. I made the decision a few years ago to never raise my eyebrows, to never be surprised.
What fragrance do you wear?
There’s a Tom Ford one that I love and whenever I wear it so many people ask me what it is. But I don’t want to say in case everyone suddenly smells like me!
It kinda smells like you’d imagine he smells – quite sophisticated and manly. It’s a good one to use before a shoot so you feel really suave.
Where are you happiest?
Chilling at home with my friends, probably singing karaoke.
What’s your karaoke song?
I sing Wicked Game by Chris Isaacs. In the beginning I pretend to be really nervous, then I suddenly go for it and win the crowd over, like people on X-Factor.
Do you have a life motto?
“I can and I will!”