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My wardrobe: chef Ben Cooper

Date

Annabel Ross

Play this video to hear Chin Chin executive chef Benjamin Cooper talk about his style – or read our interview below.

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Video: Benjamin Cooper's style

Chef Ben Cooper shows us his wears.

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We hear you've got a thing for shoes.

I've got 55 to 60 pairs. These are pretty much my five favourite pairs of shoes. The tan brogues (far left) and the brown suede ones (far right) are made by a company called Grenson. They're handmade in England. I got them from Beggar Man Thief in South Melbourne - I get pretty much all my dress shoes from there. New Balance trainers are my favourite sports shoes - I've always thought that they're a bit more stylish than the Reeboks and the Nikes of this world. The pink and purple pair I found at a Puma warehouse outlet. They're by a Japanese designer and they were on sale for $30. There's also a pair of tan boots made by Feit. They're all handmade, hand-stitched and everything.

Being a chef, you probably wouldn't get much of an opportunity to wear everyday clothes.

Ben wears a Morrissey blazer, shirt from Arthur Galan and trousers from Honor Among Thieves.

Ben wears a Morrissey blazer, shirt from Arthur Galan and trousers from Honor Among Thieves.

We wear chef's pants and Chin Chin T-shirts in the kitchen but I never go to work in my uniform - I hate the idea of being out and about in my uniform. So that's my little fashion parade - getting dressed to go to work.

That's an impressive fur coat. Is it real?

It's fake. It's from the old London days (Cooper and his wife once lived in London). It was from a Route 66-style vintage shop. It was around £150, I think. I used to get a lot of wear out of it in London but I only get to wear it once or twice a year here.

“I get my head (bar the mohawk) shaved once a month at a barber in Degraves Street.”

“I get my head (bar the mohawk) shaved once a month at a barber in Degraves Street.”

How many tattoos do you have?

On my right arm I've got three stars, on my left arm I've got five stars, I've got a tattoo on the top of my right arm, tattoos on both sides of my neck and a very large tattoo on my back. The tattoo on my back is a Japanese koi, I've got a dragonfly and a lotus blossom on my neck and another star. I got my first tattoo when I was 18 - and, yes, it is addictive.

How long have you had the mohawk?

“Sometimes you find a piece of clothing that you just have to have.”

“Sometimes you find a piece of clothing that you just have to have.”

On and off for 18 years. Growing up, I remember seeing my first mohawk and thinking, that's an amazing haircut. It just sort of conveys strength and comfort in oneself - it's not the sort of thing you'd have if you weren't comfortable with who you are. I love hats too - Kangol is my go-to brand - for days when I can't be bothered putting product in my hair. And there are quite a few of those days.

Do you have any favourite labels?

I've got a few, but generally I like to buy anything that's a bit quirky or that I don't think you'll find too many other people wearing. I buy for me, not for anyone else. If I wear it and people say, "What in God's name are you wearing?" so be it. I'm not tied down to needing to make other people happy with my choices. For me, fashion is my little life spark.

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