At the recent GQ Awards dinner co-hosted in London by fashion giant Hugo Boss and GQ magazine, comedian Russell Brand joked that the fashion company supplied uniforms to the Nazis during WWII.
GQ was so upset over the slap at one of its biggest advertisers that it scrubbed all mentions of Brand from its website.
During the September 3 awards dinner, Brand, an iconoclast well known for stirring up trouble at every opportunity, slammed London Mayor Boris Johnson for “making light” of the use of chemical weapons in Syria, joked that GQ now stood for “genocide quips,” and then went after Hugo Boss, linking them to the Nazis of WWII.
Quipped Brand, “…if any of you know a little bit about history and fashion, you’ll know that Hugo Boss made the uniforms for the Nazis. And the Nazis did have flaws. But they did look f**king fantastic, let’s face it, while they were killing people on the basis of their religion and sexuality.”
Hugo Boss reportedly paid upwards to £250,000 to co-host the awards dinner only to have Brand cast them in the with Nazis.
GQ was not amused, and so it sent all mentions of Brand down the Internet memory hole despite that the magazine had awarded him the “Oracle Of The Year” award at that very dinner.
First, a disclaimer: Over the years, I’ve owned a couple of Hugo Boss sports jackets and ties. I think I first became aware of the company around 1986, when I noticed that they were mentioned in the closing credits of Miami Vice for supplying some of the show’s stylish duds.
But regarding Brand’s freakout (despite wearing Hugo Boss togs himself, apparently), just about every major German corporation whose lineage predates World War II played some role in the Nazi War Machine. Literally so, in the case of all of the German car manufacturers: Volkswagen was “originally founded in 1937 by the Nazi trade union, the German Labour Front (Deutsche Arbeitsfront),” according to Wikipedia. The Beetle was of course, Hitler’s mass-produced “People’s Car,” and the 1970s-era VW “Thing” was originally the Nazis’ Kübelwagen, their equivalent of the American Jeep, rebranded with a cute name and freewheelin’ uber-‘70s marketing campaign. BMW produced airplane engines and motorcycles for the German Army, employing slave labor in the process. And Dr. Ferdinand Porsche helped design the Tiger Tank and one of the largest tanks employed throughout World War II, the aptly-named “Elefant.” And then there’s Mercedes-Benz.
Beyond the obvious joke value that Hugo Boss’s namesake founder produced (but apparently didn’t design) the Nazis’ campy uniforms, I’m not sure why they’re singled out for vitriol such as Brand’s. On the other hand, the equally “liberal” GQ isn’t helping matters by first hiring Brand to be their co-host, and then, angry that Russell Brand “unexpectedly” turns to be…Russell Brand, disappears his performance down the Memory Hole.