Jeffrey Bryant is the iconic designer responsible for the wardrobe of the legendary Pop band Pet Shop Boys, who performed for the very first time in Uruguay this year. Apart form enjoying the music, I was amazed by the band’s costumes. In this interview, Jeffrey talks about his beginnings, Pet Shop Boys’ music, working in the band’s tours, and his thoughts on Fashion.
Versión en español aquí.
When did you start working with Pet Shop Boys?
“I first worked with Pet Shop Boys in 1991. I appeared as a dancer in “Was It Worth It”.” In the picture below, Jeffrey is in white wig and eyepatch.
How did it happen? Did you know the band from before or you were recommended by a friend or manager?
“London Fashion icon Michael Costif sent me to an audition.”
How is a day of work in a Pet Shop Boys tour? Any anecdote you would like to share?
“The Pet Shop Boys show days are really long. We actually start the load in the day before. I am also in charge of the bed stage set. That takes two hours to steam iron and set up.
Most of the clothes we can’t wash, plastic straws, the big gold and silver ruffle jackets. Everything travels in wardrobe cases. It fits in like a big jigsaw.
If I start at 9 AM, I am usually finished all set up at 7 PM. It takes all day, no lunch break. Everything is layed out in order backstage. The correct glasses with the correct helmet.”
The pictures below show how the clothes are packed in the wardrobe cases that are shipped around the world.
What is your favourite Pet Shop Boys work (song, video, album)?
“Almost impossible to pick favourite songs and video. Tooooo many.
Songs: Young Offender, Domino Dancing, Being Boring, Minimal. The list goes on.
Video: Domino Dancing, Minimal, Being Boring. The video “Don’t Know What You Want” is a total masterpiece. Can You Forgive, excellent video. Again, the list is endless.”
During the show, and studying pictures the day after, I looked closely at the straw jacket and the high-vis wear clothes, all visually striking pieces. Which are your favourite materials to work with, and why?
“I love UV colour fabric. It frightens most people. I love very expensive fabric, but also use really cheap fabric costing one dollar then I use it to make fantastic shapes.
We are spoiled in London, we have everything. “Cloth House” here in Berwick Streer, London has the best fabrics in the world. They have hologram vinyl that I, and the fashion industry is obsessed with at the moment.”
Who have you dressed?
“Pet Shop Boys, Duran Duran, Tina Turner, Mick Jagger, George Micheal, Billie Ray Martin, Luciana, Will Young, Marina and her Diamonds, Westlife, Peter Andre, have worn my clothes … Also they have been seen in about twenty TV commercials, three films, and three documentaries. Also how could I forgot Lady Gaga and Goldfrapp are high up on that list.”
What inspires you?
“At fifty-four I find it hard to be inspired. It’s very difficult to make really clever, original clothing.
In Punta del Este, I found in a hardwear store (opposite a new round appartment block called Art Tower) they had a rough nylon fabric they use for fencing, it comes inblack and grey. I bought three metres, it’s loosely woven and looks like a fabric Comme des Garçons or Issey Miyake would use. I am very excited by that at the moment, I will do big coats with hoods.”
Can you describe the moment (or process) that made you choose Fashion Design as a way of life?
“Fashion chose me, at sixteen I started my apprentship in a big steel works, it was 1976 the first year of Punk explosion. I started by buying old clothes in vintage stores and cutting them up and spray painting them. This progressed to buy fabrics and make copies of the Vivienne Westwood/Seditionaries clothes. I dressed all my friends. Punk turned into Blitz Kids. My gang were the best dressed. My making clothes for the make up artists and hairdressers, this got me contacts in the music business. Stylist Alan Keyes got me to make clothes for the Stones, George Michael and the Pet Shop Boys.”
How do you see Fashion Design today, and where is it going?
“Fashion today, doesn’t excite like before. Designers these days invent looks and ideas that were on other people’s catwalks twenty and thirty years ago. Mickey Mouse ears and McDonald’s jackets were in London clubs twenty-five years ago. Illusion dress, deeeelusion dress more like.
We have people like Anthony Price, who did clothes for Roxy Music and Duran Duran, who at sixty-seven is still making unbelievable clever clothing. He did a gold dress for the cover of Candy Magazine, worn by Tilda Swinton that is faaaabulous beyond measure.”