Bruce Oldfield - Biography
Think of the world's most soignée women and the chances are they have passed through Bruce Oldfield's atelier. Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jemima Khan, Queen Rania of Jordan, Samantha Cameron and Jerry Hall have all worn creations by this master tailor. But his life in high fashion belies his humble beginnings. He was a Barnado's boy, raised in near poverty, who dreamed of making it big.
Of course he was particularly associated with one name that has passed into fashion legend – that of Diana, Princess of Wales.
His show-stopping dresses helped transformed into the royal star. But he recalls being introduced to her as the shy young bride she was in 1981.
She was a "little country bumpkin, a typical Sloane with cardigans and Laura Ashley see-through skirts". "She got gorgeous later on".
Born in County Durham, north east England on July 14, 1950, he was the mixed-race child of unwed parents.
His mother was white and half Irish, but brought up in England, while his father was West Indian. He never met either of them.
His childhood with his foster mother seamstress Violet Masters was short on money. "A bit like Angela's Ashes except ten years on in County Durham," was how he described it.
What Violet did give him was love, discipline and an education in sewing; at eight years old he was creating clothes for his foster sister's dolls.
Finding him a bit of a handful she sent him to West Mount, in Ripon, North Yorkshire, to a Barnardo’s home for his teenage years.
If Bruce was a tearaway he was a very stylish one in "purple pinstriped trousers and a flowered shirt"."I was a dedicated follower of fashion even then," he remembers.
Having graduated from Central Saint Martin's College of Art, he was invited to design collections for Henri Bendel department store in New York.
Returning to London, his real ticket to the A-list was screen siren Charlotte Rampling. She asked him to design the costumes for her film 1974 Le Taxi Mauve.
"I was getting a lot of editorial, as in lots of pages in Vogue, but it's far more important to get your dresses on the back of a famous person. Charlotte Rampling in Bruce Oldfield. That sells."
It sold so well that by the following year he was able to establish his eponymous fashion line.
By 1990 he had been awarded an OBE for his services for the British fashion industry and also received an honorary fellowship from the Royal College of Art.