Russell Brand got into some trouble last week when he brought up fashion house Hugo Boss's questionable history with the Nazi's on stage at a GQ award show that was, of course, sponsored by Hugo Boss. Today, in the Guardian, Brand gave his version of events.
Brand was invited to the British GQ's Men of the Year Awards to receive the Oracle Award, whatever that is, on September 3. Brand, never one to hold back his true feelings, let it all hang out during his speech. "Any of you who know a little bit about history and fashion will know that Hugo Boss made the uniforms for the Nazis," Brand told a shocked audience at London's Royal Opera House. "The Nazis did have flaws, but, you know, they did look fucking fantastic, let's face it, while they were killing people on the basis of their religion and sexuality." Brand was seemingly upset with London mayor Boris Johnson, who had previously made a crack about the situation in Syria on stage. Here's the video:
Shockingly, Brand's performance didn't go over well with GQ, or the event's sponsor, Hugo Boss. Brand was kicked out of an after party by GQ editor Dylan Jones, which was a big deal for some reason, and had previously only mentioned the incident in one tweet before Saturday's op-ed in the Guardian.
So, why did Brand do it? Mostly because he was joking with his friends at his table, among them Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher, who also received an important award, and they were all particularly offended with Johnson's remarks. "Matt is momentarily focused. 'He's making light of gassed Syrian children,' he says. We watch, slightly aghast, then return to goading Noel," Brand explains. Their table was already treating the night like a joke, and a prominent politician making light of a real tragedy at a fashion party sealed it. The night was a joke to them. Apparently others disagreed, as the subsequent events showed. But by the time Brand was set to go on stage his friends were goading him and the rest, as they say, is history.
But there was no ulterior motive, no grab for publicity (though he is promoting a comedy tour), and he holds no ill will towards the fashion house. (After the story broke, many noted Brand wore Hugo Boss to an Oscar party six months ago.) "The jokes about Hugo Boss were not intended to herald a campaign to destroy them," Brand says. "They're not Monsanto or Halliburton, the contemporary corporate allies of modern-day fascism; they are, I thought, an irrelevant menswear supplier with a double-dodgy history." But the event did make things clear to Brand about who is, ultimately, calling the shots and how afraid they are of a slight amount of criticism.
We know now that Hugo Boss is still very touchy about its complicated history with the Nazis. Oh well. You should read Brand's piece in its entirety, because it really is worth your time. He's normally fairly annoying, but here he's spot on.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.