Queen's Brian May hits out at 'appalling' gap between rich and poor


Queen guitarist Brian May has spoken out about the gap between the rich and poor in society, calling it "appalling".

Speaking at the south London launch for his latest book, the musician praised Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert for his "vision" and endeavours to make a better society.

"We still have a society that is split between the rich and the poor. Now to me that's appalling in the 21st century, and I don't want to see that any more," Brian said.

Brian May (left) and Denis Pellerin at the launch for their book Crinoline: Fashion's Most Magnificent Disaster

"I want to see equal opportunity for people, real equal opportunity. I don't want to see any people making themselves richer at the expense of the poor."

He added: "It's not about selfishness, it's not about economic recovery, it's not about money, it's about compassion and decency and working towards a society that benefits everyone and every creature."

Written alongside Denis Pellerin, Crinoline: Fashion's Most Magnificent Disaster is a visually striking 3D exploration of one of fashion's most recognised garments.

Brian May

Featuring contributions from leading fashion designers Dame Vivienne Westwood and Dame Zandra Rhodes, it has been published to coincide with the Undressed: 350 Years Of Underwear exhibition at London's Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A Museum).

Asked how he felt to have the endorsement of such renowned fashion figures, the 68-year-old hailed their "great enthusiasm".

"I was thrilled that it happened, that Vivienne Westwood and Zandra wanted to contribute," he said.

Dame Vivienne Westwood

"I guess I thought that maybe what we were doing was very small and they wouldn't be bothered, but they plunged in with great enthusiasm, as did the V&A."

He added: "I'm very thankful that the V&A has collaborated with us. What it's proved to us, more than anything, is that crinoline is alive. We now have some young designers who have also come in contributing to this exhibition with their new designs.

"The book, I hope, will just give people wonder. I hope they will go, 'Wow! That's amazing, that's beautiful'."

Brian May with his wife Anita Dobson at the launch for his book Crinoline: Fashion's Most Magnificent Disaster

Photo historian Denis revealed their research also led them to the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition in London. "Once Brian was won over, and he saw it was a good idea, everything was very easy," the Frenchman said.

"We were also lucky to be allowed to photograph one of Alexander McQueen's crinolines in the exhibition at the V&A last year so everything fell into place."

London-born Brian said he does not consider himself "a fashionable person".

Crinoline: Fashion's Most Magnificent Disaster cover

"I kind of react against fashion because I regarded it as conformity and I don't like conformity," he said. "I like individualism. But to look back on how fashion has influenced people sociologically is a fascinating thing and this is what I've discovered on this journey."

Brian is passionate about stereo photography, a Victorian fad in which two flat images are fused in a special viewer to produce a scene in 3D.

Each copy of Crinoline: Fashion's Most Magnificent Disaster, which is out now, is accompanied by his patent 3D viewer called the OWL. It allows readers to see the Victorian-era illustrations included in the book in another dimension.

"I don't know who we were thinking of when we started to write the book," Brian admitted when asked if it was aimed at a particular market.

"It was a journey of discovery. For me, the initial passion was the stereoscopy part because all these wonderful images of crinolines are in glorious 3D and you can enjoy them. Gradually, I realised the importance of what we were looking at."

For more information about Crinoline: Fashion's Most Magnificent Disaster by Brian May and Denis Pellerin, visit the website.

Undressed: A Brief History Of Underwear opens at the V&A on Saturday