On June 8,Tan France found himself standing in front of a sold out event hosted by the Saint Louis County Library in collaboration with Left Bank Books. The event was to help promote his recently released memoir “Naturally Tan.”
For the few who do not know France, he launched to fame with the Emmy Award-winning Netflix reboot of “Queer Eye,” where he tackles the role of giving fashion advice to the weekly heroes on the show that they help. France has given more than advice to just these heroes though, he also given advice to all of the world. He helped make the french-tuck one of the biggest style hits for any gender since the shows launch in early 2018 and helped bring back patterned bright shirts.
France sat down and had a moderated Q&A where they talked about his memoir and unveiling more information than what was actually just on the pages of the book. One thing France kept reiterating throughout the evening was a nod to his “beautiful brown skin.” Yes, his book does talk about his time in “Queer Eye” and the fun he had with the other boys on the show, but it also covers topics that France knew he needed to shed a light on because not many gay brown men fall into the position of receiving the love and respect that he is shown. He took a good portion of the night talking about the things that are not glamorous and how he had to work his way up to build a successful business and then land a job on the show—one he originally did not even want.
France did cover these more touchy subjects, but he did it the only way one would expect him to—in style. France was constantly engaging with the crowd, through his stories, jokes or just his actions. France had a way with the audience, everyone sitting quiet and attentively, but in a split second they would be cheering or laughing along with him.
The book itself, “Naturally Tan” takes the reader through the life of the British man starting from his childhood to present day. He made the reader understand what it was like to grow up in his shoes and how some things, like just walking to school, could even be scary. He touched on mistakes he made, risks he took and touched on how he was able to build his company and become his own boss after explaining he held over 20 different jobs in just a five year span. France touched on relatable issues as well, like depression, love and feeling like you constantly don’t belong somewhere. The book tells the ups, the downs and everything in between. He even makes sure to sneak in some fashion advice for those who are curious. It makes the reader feel like they can relate to France, while still learning about the Netflix star.
The event concluded with France taking questions from audience members that were written down and turned in earlier in the event. France touched on fast fashion and its impact environmentally and ethically, to educating people that it is cultural appropriation to ask someone what their spirit animal is. As the event was wrapping up, France made note of a young boy in the back and waved him forward to give him a hug and talk to him. Everyone who attended the event got to leave with a signed copy of his book, and those who bought VIP tickets also got the chance to meet France after the show and get a picture with him.
Overall, the event was engaging and was built around France and his loving energetic character. No one left the building with a frown on their face, as France knew exactly how to make a crowd entranced by his personality alone.
St. Louis County Library is always hosting events, not usually on this scale, but this event helped raise awareness for them and what they are doing in and for the community. You can check out more events they have here.