Photographs from Jason Bell's series An Englishman in New York will be exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery from 24 August until 17 April 2011. His book of the same title, which contains the portraits and interviews, is published by Dewi Lewis on 15 September
"There’s a tremendous sense of freedom living in Manhattan. I remember when we were opening a small Barney’s outpost in Soho; in a cavalier way I told everyone that I would get a Queen Elizabeth II lookalike to come and cut the ribbon. We didn’t have a huge budget and I couldn’t find one so I decided to do it myself. I dressed up with butt pads, crown, sash, gloves, purse and jewels. I braced myself for the catcalls and the insults, and as I exited the lift into the lobby of my building the doorman said, “Mr Doonan, do you want your mail now or when you come back?” I often think what would I be doing if I’d stayed in England? I’m sure I’d still be on the scarf counter at John Lewis where I started. I failed the eleven plus in England and I always thought of myself as really stupid. Nobody knows that here, so I’ve written four books and a column for the New York Observer"