Birkenhead-born comedian Paul O’Grady wore this suit as part of his infamous ‘blond bombsite’ character Lily Savage. Based on O’Grady’s recollections of female members of his family, Lily was a mother of two ‘notorious for her shoplifting and her acid tongue’. This suit was typical of Savage’s flamboyant glamour, and love of all things ‘animal print’. She wore the suit regularly, making several major television appearances in it, including in 1995, Love Lines, a spoof chat show, in which she interviewed ‘William Shakespeare’ about his views on love.
Savage rose to prominence on the London comedy circuit during the 1980s. O’Grady had moved to London to become a social worker in the 1970s, developing his comedy career in his spare time on the gay pub and club circuit around Vauxhall and Elephant and Castle. The ‘Savage’ character became a regular and increasingly popular fixture at gay pub, The Royal Vauxhall Tavern, before crossing over to larger venues such as the London Palladium. During the nineties Savage cemented her mainstream appeal when she became a celebrity interviewer on the Big Breakfast. By 1999 she had her own series ‘The Lily Savage Show’ on BBC1. She was eventually retired in 2004 ‘to a French Convent’. O’Grady used the dry-wit, acid tongue and mass appeal of the Savage character to speak out about LGBT issues, to promote gay rights and to address wider issues of social deprivation and injustice.