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Bradley Sharpe Autumn/Winter 2023., Photo: Camille Vivier
In the Spotlight

Bradley Sharpe's fashion is a charming symbiosis of past and the present with a touch of the future

Tina Lončar

March 12, 2024

Although he only has a few active working years, the star names he has dressed such as Lady Gaga, RAYE, Naomi Campbell, Bree Runway and Christina Aguilera, as well as the growing media interest, are not in this designer’s portfolio by chance. Vogue Adria got the chance to talk with him, so read below what he revealed to us.

“Because of her, I became a fashion designer”, said Bradley Sharpe proudly, but somewhat modestly, in an interview for Fucking Young! describing how, as a thirteen-year-old boy, he admired the stylistic expressions of Lady Gaga, who at that time was conquering the world with her debut album “The Fame”, calling her the “woman of the moment”. Admiringly observing the frames of her, then controversial, “Poker Face”, every day on the last pages of his school notebook, he painstakingly crossed out Gaga’s avant-garde creations, not even suspecting that in this innocent boyish obsession, the foundation of his future life story was actually hidden. Although at the time he didn’t even know what it meant to be a fashion designer, ten years later his dreams became reality. Towards the end of 2020 in Billboard’s cover story, Gaga rocked in an outfit by Nicole Formichetti that included a decadent blonde creation by Bradley Sharpe. But that was just the beginning. The avant-garde metallic costume of the young London designer shined under the spotlight and two years later, alongside hardened avant-gardists like Gareth Pugh, when the pop icon, accompanied by the screams of an excited audience, stepped onto the stage in it to mark the beginning of “The Chromatica Ball” tour. For the young designer on the rise, it was a turning point, a moment after which nothing would be the same.

“My approach to design revolves around the infusion of historical references with a modern twist. I invest a lot of time in finding materials that elevate the cuts of the collection, avoiding traditional plain fabrics in favor of those with added elements that contribute to a modern feel. To achieve a sculptural look, we use tailoring methods to pad the material with unconventional backings,” Bradley Sharpe explained to me in our conversation.

Bradley Sharpe Autumn/Winter 2023., Photo: Camille Vivier
Camille Vivier
Bradley Sharpe, Photo Camille Vivier

But even if that big moment didn’t happen at the very beginning, or if it happened later, Bradley Sharpe is a name worth noting. The boy from Nottinghamshire started his fashion career at the prestigious Central Saint Martins in London, worked as a baker at Marc Jacobs after moving to New York for a while, and decided to save for his graduation year by working as a bartender in a London sex club. Although seemingly an unusual place to look for inspiration, the club in Soho soon became the source where the first ideas began to be born. Going to work where debauchery reigned became the site of an experiment where he reflected on how courtship rituals had changed since the balls of the 18th century until today. He wondered how decadent these former meeting places, which seem conservative to us from today’s perspective, were actually, and how much connects and separates them from today. But all his thoughts made sense when, quite by chance, he saw a tent wing in the window of a store. It was a link between these two worlds, only apparently completely different. Guided by the form of the voluminous mantua, the dress of aristocratic women in the 18th century, he transformed the symbol of contemporary festival parties into avant-garde creations. The “tent dress”, in which he incorporated donated tent poles and outdoor materials, became the backbone of his graduate collection, and no one who witnessed it remained indifferent.

Bradley Sharpe Autumn/Winter 2023., Photo: Camille Vivier

“My design philosophy is deeply inspired by my surroundings, and authenticity stands out as a key element. While my experience working in a sex club during my late college years and the early stages of starting my own brand was challenging and uncomfortable, the fascination others show for it is intriguing. I recently had to move out of London due to the high costs and lack of support for young designers. This change led to a more isolated experience, encouraging me to find inspiration in all shades of solitude”, Sharpe tells me, adding, “Despite the changes in my environment, music remains a significant factor in my creative process. I create playlists tailored to each project, with a recent focus on artists such as RAYE, who delivered a flawless symphonic live performance at the Royal Albert Hall. I find inspiration in orchestrated music and notice that I work better with it than without it.”

Namely, after presenting to the world the incredible construction of the dress, which at the same time resembles a festival tent but also a glamorous, voluminous mantle, Sharpe launched a brand under his own name and continued to experiment with unusual, sculptural forms that act like works of art in motion, and then, at least ostensibly, moved away from the avant-garde and launched his debut ready-to-wear collection. In the middle of last year, he presented the “Something In The Air” collection for the fall/winter 2023 season, confirming once again that everything he touches turns to gold. Through the lens of Camille Vivier, who managed to evoke the charm of the studio photographs of greats like Irving Penn, Sharpe’s creations recalled the glory days of Cristóbal Balenciaga. In their style, somewhat dark, they exuded the same avant-garde beauty, but also incredible elegance and femininity, as if it were a fashion story belonging to another time. With attention to every detail, Sharpe’s collection acts as a touching ode to the fashion we long for, with innovative construction solutions, playing with volume, materials and forms, as a symbol of classic elegance in a contemporary version. From sunglasses that create the impression of “twisted” frames, to “retro” hats, to a silhouette that seems familiar and yet completely new, every part of the collection is a wonderful visual journey.

Bradley Sharpe, AW2023
Bradley Sharpe Autumn/Winter 2023., Photo: Camille Vivier
Bradley Sharpe, AW2023
Bradley Sharpe, AW2023

“A recent partnership with a car M.O.T centre yielded a distinctive fabric, typically used to line sports car roofs. This additional layer, discreetly placed between the outer part of the garment and the lining, contributed to an intriguing, unseen dimension,” this designer told me, revealing just a fraction of his creative process with an endless, inexhaustible infusion of imagination.

Sharpe creates completely unencumbered by seasons and the traditional calendar. He does not rush to create just to meet the externally imposed pace of showing collections, and precisely the fact that he creates slowly and, as is often said today, organically, constitutes a large part of his authentic approach, which is extremely appealing in a hectic and fast-paced world. Judging by everything he has shown us and told us so far, Bradley Sharpe’s creativity is really worth waiting for.