Bradley Bayou has gained widespread recognition for his many contributions to the fashion industry. While he was the Creative Director and Head Designer for Halston, Bayou revived the label to its original stature as a world renowned brand. As a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America he has received numerous industry honors, including “Mercedes-Benz Presents” Designer for Los Angeles Fashion Week at Smashbox Studios. While the BRADLEY BAYOU couture label is a favorite among celebrities, his designs have cemented a place in the industry for him as a man with the ability to make everyone look fantastic no matter what their size or shape.
I often feel like I have no idea how I came to be a fashion designer. I started out as a real estate developer in Dallas, and now I find myself surrounded by women asking me all the time what to wear. If I think about it, I know that all good decisions come from trusting yourself, taking a leap of faith and following your heart. I always tell my daughters to dream big, because the bigger your dreams, the bigger your reality can be. This is a philosophy I also try to follow, but life often throws us difficult challenges that can change the path you thought you were meant to follow. This is the story of my twist of fate and how I became a designer and philanthropist.
In the 90’s I was influenced by an MTV style show to paint a man’s vest, which I then wore to a party in Los Angeles. The vest was a big hit and after a few months I had made replicas for Fred Segal, Saks, Neiman Marcus and Barneys; and all of sudden I was a fashion designer. I spent the next few years designing women’s couture for these department stores; however, it was my atelier in Los Angeles that brought me my most famous clients, such as; Halle Berry, Oprah, Eva Longoria, Megan Fox, Kim Kardashian, and Queen Latifah, to name a few. People Magazine then did a feature on me and coined me as “The Man for All Sizes” because of my client’s many different shapes and sizes. This gave me the idea for my book, “The Science of Sexy,” where I share my expertise with everyone, not just those who come through my atelier. I wanted everybody to have the confidence of looking their best available to them, no matter what their size; because confidence is sexy, and any body can be sexy.
While I was dressing every size and shape of woman, I was still following the couture tradition of creating and showing “sample size” collections. My daughters were in their twenties at the time, and came into the atelier every now and again to borrow clothes. Sometimes they were able to find something; other times things didn’t fit, but I really didn’t take much notice. However, I did notice my oldest daughter began losing weight, and I was encouraging; I thought I was doing the right thing, being a good dad… but what I didn’t know was that she was struggling inside with a terrible demon. She was one of the nearly 10 million females and one million males in the United States who battle with eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia. And that number doesn’t even include the millions more who suffer from binge eating disorders. But for me, the worst part was knowing that I had contributed, not only with my encouraging remarks, but also by perpetuating the stereotype and creating “sample size” garments, to fit only very skinny “sample size” models.
My good friend Emme, the plus size super model, knew what I was going through, and introduced me to an amazing organization, NEDA, National Eating Disorders Association; an organization that understands eating disorders and helps not only those suffering from the disease, but also those who love someone suffering from the disease. Here I learned that eating disorders are a very serious illness. Over one person’s lifetime, at least 50,000 individuals will die as a direct result of an eating disorder, and eating disorders have the highest death rate of any mental illness. The more I learned, the more I new I had to get involved, so I became a NEDA Ambassador and have been actively seeking opportunities to educate people about this illness ever since. I was also appointed by the governor of New York to a task force for setting healthy body requirements for models. I believe this is one step toward preventing the media from continuing to promote unhealthy body images as fashionable; which could save many people from the pain and suffering caused by eating disorders.
Which brings me to Celebrity Society Magazine. When they asked me to contribute I was excited to be considered part of such a philanthropic community. I am honored that my life’s twists and turns have led me down a path and given me a platform from which I can shed light on such a terrible disease, so very close to my heart. It is my pleasure to share my story with Celebrity Society, and I hope you all will take note of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week as it begins February 20th.
NEDA’s website provides all kinds of resources and tool kits for parents, educators and coaches, so for more information or if you would like to get involved please log on to www.nationaleatingdisorders.org. Or if you know someone who is struggling with an eating disorder, the National Helpline is 1-800-931-2237.