Book Smart

Bryan Bradley may be an avid reader, but he's no lit snob.

Bryan Bradley in his library

Bryan Bradley in his library.

Photo By Thomas Iannaccone

NEW YORK — Bryan Bradley may be an avid reader, but he's no lit snob. Where some designers claim to be experts on Marcel Proust and Baudelaire and freely reference those writers in their fashion show notes, the creative force behind Tuleh has no such airs.

"When I started reading, it was Danielle Steel and the entire oeuvre of Sidney Sheldon," Bradley recalls, a sense of pride in his voice.

The designer has come a long way since scouring the pages of popular fiction. Over the years, Bradley has amassed an impressive collection of books sourced from specialty bookstores around the world or received as gifts from friends. Until recently, Bradley would resell many books or keep them stored in boxes at his apartment on Manhattan's Lower East Side, which also serves as his studio. But last spring, he decided to get organized. He asked an acquaintance to create a white plywood bookshelf that now graces an entire wall of the elongated loft and is furnished with more books and magazines than Bradley cares to count.

The designer explains his passion: "Most fashion types don't read. I read in a weirdly circular manner that I'm only now beginning to see some sort of pattern in. Whatever the various pretentious tendencies I am guilty of, building a 'library' is not amongst them, meaning, it's a totally random selection, with very few — I hate this modifier, but bookish types would say — valuable editions. When well-meaning friends and acquaintances give these sort of books to me, I try to pass them along to the more appropriate recipient ASAP…well, with a few exceptions."

Bradley does collect some first editions, but unless they are rare, out of print or have a personal meaning, he likes to rip out pages for his personal use. That said, he claims to rarely cull from them for his fashion collections. "The crossroad of fashion and literature is so remote that it rarely makes it onto the map," he says. Still, he admits to having been profoundly affected by Francine du Plessix Gray's "Them: A Memoir of Parents," which he read while designing this fall's collection.

"I do remember a kind of fascination with 'Them' that kept circling back," says Bradley, who is a friend of the writer. "I think Francine found herself — her voice — in opposition. I have a weakness for outré, grandstanding, self-created types; I absolutely can relate to [Russian poet Vladimir] Mayakovsky's obsession with Tatiana [Yakovleva du Plessix, the author's mother], which was in direct opposition to his supposed duty to his revolutionary comrades."
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