Tonight I’m really proud to be interviewing the man about town, Camden Town that is, Alex Proud. I can’t remember exactly when I first became aware of Alex – it was either through watching one of my favourite TV programmes, Channel 4’s Four Rooms, where Alex is one of the regular dealers; reading one of his highly entertaining articles for the Telegraph Men section ( I know I’m not male but I love Alex’s writing style and wit and quite often I agree with his sentiments); or, hearing about his fab entertainment venues – BUT most recently I discovered that he had a love for Jeffery West shoes, a love shared by most of the men that I’ve interviewed as well as by my darling husband too. So, without further ado, let’s meet the man himself….hi Alex, welcome to the blog:
Hi! Alex Proud, pleased to meet you.
Although you are a nightclub & gallery owner & dealer & TV dealer & journalist, you studied politics at the University of York. Do you still have a love for politics? Is being a politician next on your impressive career list or is writing a regular column for Telegraph Men a sort of “political” outlet for you?
Yes I still love Politics, I used to be Charles Kennedy’s advisor, and I still actively engage with the Liberal party. Also, I am the Vice Chairman of the local business improvement district and I’m heavily involved in Camden politics. But yes, sometimes I do see this column as an outlet for my political passions.
You started your dealer career by selling Japanese art and eventually moved on to Rolls Royces. Were you driven to selling items that personally appealed to you or because these items were in demand? What made you opt for Rolls Royces?
I hate to destroy any romantic imagery, but I did what I did to make a living. Ha! But I do love British cars – I currently drive an Aston Martin and I love Jags – the new advert is fantastic; it is good to be bad!
Your fabulous famous photography gallery, Proud Central, was opened in 1998 and has become one of the world’s foremost private photographic galleries. What inspired you to open such a gallery?
A series of coincidences led me to put on Dennis Morris’ Sex Pistols exhibition and when I saw the reaction it garnered, I quickly developed a passion/love affair that has endured since.
The photography shown in your galleries focus on popular culture, encompassing rock & roll, fashion, sporting moments etc. What sort of photography do you like to look at? Have you a favourite print?
Somewhat like the referee of a football game, it would be undiplomatic of me to express my personal favourites. I enjoy all good photography.
In 1999 you set the publishing company, Vision On, with well known photographer, Ian Rankin. I am a great admirer of the work of Ian Rankin, so I am well impressed! Do you do any photography yourself, as a hobby?
Yes. I’m a keen Instagram-er if that counts? But I have to admit I’m pretty dreadful.
In 2006 you opened the stunning 700 capacity bar & music venue Proud Camden, which was soon followed by Proud Cabaret, the burlesque restaurant within Proud Camden; and Proud Brighton. What’s the most memorable gig held at Proud Camden?
Most memorable gig would be the launch of the first Proud Bar, when The Libertines played…
Being a bit of a party animal, having co hosted parties with people as diverse as Paul McCartney and Hugh Heffner, you probably are not easily starstruck … so any great party anecdotes?
I’ve got hundreds of great party anecdotes. You will have to take me out for dinner and get me drunk to get them. Sounds good to me… 😉
Your close ties with Mencap has led you to put together club nights in an effort to change people’s attitudes towards people with learning disabilities. What inspired you to help in this way?
I dislike the way the British are obsessed with puppies and kittens and donkeys and we seem to ignore human beings with far more desperate needs. Mencap and people with learning difficulties are a wonderful way for all of us to put a little bit back into society. I only wish I, and many of us did do more.
You appear on Channel 4’s Four Rooms – I love that programme – so do you enjoy the TV experience? What item would you say was your best deal as a result of the TV programme?
It’s great fun, albeit long-winded and tiring and I don’t deal well with the early starts that are necessary in the television industry. The best deal I’ve done as a result of the show is still purchasing the world’s first passport which I’m holding onto, but which I believe to be worth much more than I paid for it.
Your wife, Danielle, is an interior designer, Creative Director of your Proud establishments and in her previous job, Head Designer at Biba, so she obviously has taste too for certain items – do you share a similar taste for objects? Have you ever done a deal and brought home or to the gallery an object which didn’t quite meet her approval?
Danielle and I don’t have very similar tastes but we respect each other enough to manage to live with each other’s differences. Yes, I regularly bring home things that don’t meet her approval and ditto the other way around. It tends to mean that things disappear. Like some sort of dictatorship when things randomly disappear in the middle of the night.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
I normally wear Jeffery West shoes and Gresham Blake suits.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?
I love ASOS, because I hate walking into shops. Again, Jeffrey West shoes, I have them handmade bespoke for my feet and I have blue croc skin, brown with flames up the side…
I like Mr Porter for the odd treat.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
A new tailor that Holly introduced me to – he’s going to make me a suit. He’s called David Brooke.
Boots or Shoes?
Boots. Always. I just think that Chelsea Boots are cooler. And preferably with Cuban Heels to make me a bit taller.
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about you!
Wow, thanks for a great interview Alex! If any readers are in London, pop into the Proud Chelsea gallery and view the fab photographic exhibition currently on show until May 4th 2014 charting the career of legendary Formula One driver Ayrton Senna – as 2014 is the 30th anniversary of Senna’s debut as well as being the 20th anniversary of his death. Entry is free.
Photo Credits: All photographs have been published with kind permission from Proud Publishing Limited
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