To start, Brad states he owes everything and credits it all to the women that have entered his life. From his grandmother Ruby, to his mom, his sister, his bosses at Vogue and his friends. They protected him from bullies, from boyfriends and from the cruel world itself. (Something I can personally relate to!) Although his story may have the elements of a fashion fairy-tale, what it is at heart is a TRUE survival story. Too much excess to escape a cruel and harsh childhood.
|Brad as a kid|
Brad first began reading Vogue around age 12. Before that, he would watch fashion on television. He would dress his mom on nights out w/ his dad. He wasn't a big hit w/ other boys but he didn't care. In department stores, he would walk by the women's shoe department and SHRIEK!! Brad grew up in Port Perry, Ontario. His childhood was detailed as "trying to fit a round kid in a square town". "Fashion Television" was a place he belonged. It was like a party going on and he was on the outside looking in.
Brad would watch soaps after school and was obsessed w/ Linda Dano from Another World. Soap Operas became Brad's idea of glamour. His dad didn't shame him nor pull away. He showed his love and put on a brave face. His style choice of clothing at school drew cruel names. The F-word was called at him by 3rd grade. That was only the beginning. Everyone in town knew the Goreksi's, because his grandfather owned the local resort, Goreski's Lakeside Recreation. Brad stood out even at the resort. NO MATTER WHAT WOULD HAPPEN, Brad ALWAYS had his sister for backup. He just accepted things as they are. Brad was the dramatic performer in the family. He would do anything to avoid riding the bus w/ the other kids. Ruby was old school in her ways. She was famous for baking. She was a constant in his life, especially during his parents' own drama. Ruby was modern as well as unfailingly acceptance of her grandson. She never criticized Brad for playing w/ dolls or Barbie. Her most important contribution to her grandson was introducing him to the ICONIC & LEGENDARY Marilyn Monroe. Their local supermarket was selling black-and-white photographs of the TIMELESS actress. Brad was 12-yrs-old. He became OBSESSED w/ everything Marilyn. ruby sat him down to watch 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes'. In the eighth grade, Brad's English teacher asked everyone to do a presentation on someone they admired . .. Guess who Brad chose?
Brad's clothing attire today w/ the bow tie he states began as a joke. his first bow tie came from his boyfriend when he was in London. They were going out w/ some straight friends to a bar, Brad thought he would wear it out as a test to acquire a reaction. It became a conversation piece w/ people asking questions. Brad told Ruby "when he got older, he was going to be a window dresser". She told him to "be a makeup artist, they make more money."
Brad loved his dad and vice versa. His dad just didn't understand him. But it was a 2-way street. They didn't have anything in common. Brad didn't have much w/ him. Everything his dad was/is, Brad wasn't. Brad loved his dad, he just had strong female role models growing up, he never sought love & acceptance from him.
Obviously, Brad's mom tried to keep him safe. At school was a different story. His parents had questions about their son: (Why he liked Barbie's, blondes, Debbie Gibson & Madonna?) They took him to a doctor when Brad was 12. The doctor placed a bucket of G.I.Joe's on one side and a selection of Barbie's on the other. Even though he wanted to play w/ Barbie & Ken, Brad didn't give in. he BOREDLY played w/ G.I. Joe's but NOTHING changed. That was his childhood and he didn't know any better. He didn't know how to be any other way. High school, itself, wasn't any easier. It became and was a study in isolation.
Brad's bedroom as a kid was a refuge. He was lighting candles, incense, staring up at the sky smoking a cigarette, dreaming of a better place. He was in fear of going to school. Brad wanted the right of every other teenager - to express himself. Eating lunch in the stairwell w/ 2 other girlfriends or in the library which wasn't okay to do. NOT A DAY went by that Brad was imitated or called the F-word in the hallways. It only hurt because it made it REAL! He was scared by what that meant for his life. He didn't have ANY role models or someone to look up to.
Brad did make an effort to try to fit in for 2 weeks. It just wasn't him. He KNEW who he was and so did everyone else. He cried ALOT because his sister was gone at college. They had talked about Brad's sexuality before she left. Testing the waters and her reaction, his sister was ACCEPTING of her brother. Brad's one true getaway and unapologetic ally be himself was theater camp. The summer after 10TH grade, What he loved about it was the FREEDOM it provided. That same summer Brad got his first kiss. He knew enough to enjoy it. Girls were friends, not love interests. (Something I can agree w/ and understand with as well.)
It was the '90s. Kurt Cobain had passed away and Brad had gotten into the grunge scene. He was OFTEN angry and expressed himself through fashion. Aside from his clothes, Brad dyed his hair auburn, then jet black and grew it long. That was his Armour from the world. Experimenting w/ alcohol and later marijuana. He was a part-time club kid basically. To Brad it was all very glamorous. He drew his inspiration, not just from 'Vogue' but also from a Geraldo episode featuring New York Club Kids, that included the former "King Of The Club Kids" and murderer Michael Alig. To go w/ his experimental dressing, Brad also cut off his hair.
All of it was on television long before he was on The Rachel Zoe Project, Brad was on a Canadian dance TV show, Electric Circus. Thanks to that TV exposure, Brad a minor celebrity in that town. Even though dancing & being in the crowd at Electric Circus, they were never the cool kids - even being there. They would pay their due contributing to the club - but didn't get anywhere. Bu they did get what they wanted - a feeling of belonging. The dancers at the club were like celebrities and Brad wanted to be one of them. It was his dream. Dressing more outlandishly was due to Brad trying to work out who he was. This was the same Brad Goreski who danced w/ Debbie Gibson. Brad was also a difficult teenager. If he wanted the car, he just took it. If he was told not to, he did it anyway. His mom confronted him once about his late nights partying. He shouted back at her "I don't fucking care about what you think!" Years later, Brad had such remorse when he found out his mom would sleep w/ the portable phone in her hand. When he was out off from his parents and told to get a job, Brad went back to the family resort, but when an opportunity to work at a video store came up, he JUMPED at it. to him, that video store was a lifeline to the outside world. It was also the same place where Brad discovered the documentary about Isaac Mizrahi entitled 'Unzipped'. Brad always thought of the fashion world as a fantasy that was make-believe. But after seeing the documentary, he could see paper dolls talk.
While Brad & his dad NEVER developed that father & son shorthand w/ each other, his dad showed his affection in other ways. He supported his son through his theater productions. Though things may have been crazy at home, it was the theater when and where the Goreski family came together. The sound of applause for Brad was a much needed validation of his self-worth. It always has been.
|Brad & Tracy|
Prom night was Brad's first styling job. Tracy asked Brad to dress her and he did. Brad, at this point, was OBSESSED w/ Versace. It was inspirational. Brad looked like Michael Alig meets Max Headroom riding Rainbow Brite. At the end of the night, Brad was too drunk on lemon gin & Sprite, he stood his ground. Being head of the committee, Brad had to greet his classmates as they entered. He was SCARED, but stood his ground renouncing his independence. NO ONE could touch or disrespect him. When it was time to leave, Brad was heading to a university in the fall. It was only the beginning.
Brad did know enough of his addiction to hide it all from a classmate in theater school who was also from Ontario. With his classmate, Brad was clean. Despite the effort, the abuse wasn't helping his school performance. He was exhausted all the time. He got good at covering his addiction w/ a lie. Six months later, he couldn't hide his addiction anymore. He was working at the restaurant, staying out all night & going to class. Brad's parents came in every Sunday to take him to the store, because they knew what he would spend the money on. Soon the school administration asked him to leave, but he was put on probation instead. Brad pushed back and refused to be a failure.He wanted school. Sometimes it was all just too much. As much as he tried to hide his drug abuse from others, they knew it was more than recreational.
Brad broke down in front of his friends that were a touchstone to him. He asked for help. He went to exactly one Cocaine Anonymous meeting, but it didn't take. He was still functioning. He turned a deaf ear to the voice of reason. A man named Nick. Brad was 20 yrs old, Nick was 43 w/ 2 kids. Brad wondered why Nick would be interested in him? He felt a sense of self-worth for the first time. Brad was domestically trying to keep clean. Nick was the first man to take Brad on a proper date. They had a May-December relationship. It was very romantic.
When Gianni Versace was murdered, Brad melted down for a couple of days. Nick came into Brad's life when his parents were divorcing. But, Brad's lifestyle and drug use was beginning to ruin relationships. Brad;s sister, Mandy, and him weren't getting along. Brad was declining and needed to get help for his addictions. It was early December and Brad didn't recognize himself in the mirror. IT WAS REAL and his addiction was in his face. Brad needed to stop w/ the cocaine and drinking. He called his dad in the dead of winter and asked for help. With addiction comes relapses. But Brad has been and REMAINS sober as of 5-3-2001.
|Brad and Gary|
|Brad in Ocean's Eleven|
Brad Goreski used the time in LA to get to know Gary. A chance to build a real foundation. For Brad, it was ALOT of firsts. A First trip to London, Thailand & Gary's home state of New York City. When they arrived, Brad fell in love w/ NYC. Brad's family had become suspicious at this point. Moving to LA w/ a man he hardly knew? Many was indignant. Gary finally confronted the situation, offered to fly her out so they could meet. Brad's friend from high school, Tracy, was also concerned and flew out. When Tracy arrived in LA, let's just say: you can take the boy out of Ontario, but you can't take the Ontario out of the boy. After Tracy looked in Brad's eyes, she seen her old friend from Port Perry. Tracy & Brad found their way back to each other. After a few months, Brad found and joined an AA outpost in Brentwood. They took their sobriety SERIOUSLY there.
Being in a strange city, Brad relied on Gary, who was adamant that Brad have his own experiences. Create his own life. So Brad was at Santa Monica College wanting to transfer to USC. Brad felt he was being given a second chance at life and he didn't want to waste it. For the FIRST time in his life, Brad's eyes were OPEN. Gary suggested that Brad do something in fashion after reading a magazine, talking about their photo shoots and styling. Brad realized that was his calling in life.
One thing honestly led to another pretty quickly. Brad was on his way to New York for a summer internship at Vogue. When he entered New York after dreaming of it for years, Brad was instantly enlivened. He had dreamed of walking out his front door and confronting Manhattan. At 24 yrs of age, Brad was the oldest summer intern there. He was DEAD SERIOUS about the job. Brad explains the environment at Vogue was genuinely like the beginning scene of 'The Devil Wears Prada' where everyone scrambles to get everything together & ready. All of the interns were angling for the same prize: the chance to go to a real Vogue photo shoot. That was the golden ticket. Brad was SERIOUS AT ALL TIMES.
Brad had a strong work ethic and a deep reverence for the magazine as an institution. It was a privilege to be in the halls at Vogue. At night, people had to tell Brad to go home. He was there to learn and that was what mattered. Even though he didn't make a dime that summer, the Vogue offices were as much as Brad's playground, as it was a pain in the ass. He worked his way up to being trusted. Even assisting at a photo shoot. Brad must have done something right. He describes what it was like for him, thanks to Gary working on 'Will & Grace', and was determined to make this happen for Brad to meet Madonna for the first time. He remembered at the photo shoot feeling a sense of possibility. There was more out there for him than folding scarves.
Brad had interned at Vogue, but in NO WAY was he qualified - on paper or in person - to style a star on a major shoot. His friend, Tracy, was now the photo director of the relaunched 'Life' magazine in 2004. Working this shoot here we had Brad Goreski, college student, trying to situate a wardrobe on his hands & knees w/ duct tape. The internship only confirmed that Brad belonged in fashion but, according to U.S. Government Law, Brad belonged in Canada. He didn't have a green card. Right when he returned from Greece, Brad & Gary went right away to see an immigration lawyer. But the law was pretty clear: as long as Brad was a student, he could stay in the country. When it came to his Visa, it was NO JOKE! After Brad was a student, he'd need a full time job and company willing to sponsor his Visa. The struggle w/ Brad getting a Visa made him see what was important and what was worth fighting for.
Shortly after the 'Life' magazine cover came out, Brad received a call from Mandy that their Grandmother Ruby was sick w/ cancer and he should fly home IMMEDIATELY. When Ruby died, Brad was in the hospital w/ her. Her passing focused him. He remembers looking around the hospital room feeling grateful that he was there. Brad couldn't have done this if he were still using, but now he felt strong. He felt like a man. He wanted to continue to be a better person.
Brad transferred to USC in 2006 and majored in art history. When he was at 'Vogue', Brad was often photocopying historical references from art books. He thought if he was going to be a stylist, he should know painters, photographers & color composition and how it should all fit together. Brad worked hard. He was diligent in his studies and focused on gaining actual real world experience. After his 'Vogue' internship, he was in New York interning at W magazine. Brad talks about a shoot w/ Jake Gyllenhaal, who was promoting his film at the time, 'Donnie Darko'. Everyone lived in fear of the one who was running the shoot. Brad was afraid as well, but he was NOBODY'S bitch that summer. He wasn't just observing in his job, he was also hands-on in his responsibilities. Brad also learned the importance of photo shoot etiquette.
The head boss of the shoot was ending her stint w/ her assistant and she was looking for a replacement. NO ONE really worked out. Even though he was only a junior in college, Brad was asked if he was interested in the job. She saw something in him and asked him to stay on. Brad was caught off-guard. He talked it over w/ Gary and the immigration lawyer who advised him to stay in school and get the degree. As hard as it was, he did just that. He stayed in LA interning the next summer. Brad was thrown in the deep end w/ 2 celebrity stylists. He was 5-yrs sober and it was time to make amends.
Brad was RELENTLESS to work w/ Rachel. After Brad applied to work in the Los Angeles office of 'Vogue' w/ Anna Wintour, he flew back from coast to another. When he returned, an e-mail arrived from Rachel asking for an interview - completely out of the blue. It was July 2008, Brad made an impression. Rachel offered him a part-time position and it was bittersweet. In the meantime, Brad accepted the job full-time at the West Coast 'Vogue' office starting IMMEDIATELY. He walked away knowing he would work w/ Rachel when he came back.
To be an assistant at 'Vogue' is to be the low man on the totem pole. Brad was NOT against grunt work, he just wished he was better at what he did. As part of his job, Brad was also the liaison to the magazine's New York office and he helped in any way he could. He describes the moment that would forever define him: the realization of just how far he had to climb. At this time though Brad didn't know it yet, there would come a day when he wouldn't have to beg to get a ticket to a fashion show.
Brad had his marching orders for a 3-day shoot. He was to be seen and not heard. He was desperately trying to look busy and earn his keep. That's one thing Brad learned as an intern: always look busy. When people see him on television, Brad may come off as quite a socializer and that it comes natural & easy for him, but he actually quite shy. At dinners, he has had to force himself to speak and join conversation. It was enough that he was invited to the dinner table. He didn't need to risk overstaying his welcome. Aside from what he had done already, Brad had little to-do w/ actual fashion at 'Vogue'. He was "fashion world" adjacent. If he had been in New York walking in the halls of the ACTUAL company, it must have been enough. But Brad wondered where this job was headed?
One afternoon, an invitation arrived that Brad managed to grab, for the invitation to a launch party by Rachel Zoe. Brad hadn't given up working for her. He planned on staying at the party to grab her attention. She eventually called him over initiating they hang out for the night w/ her and her 2 assistants: Taylor and Leah. Minutes later, they were all dancing during the party. Brad wondered if he was now friends w/ Rachel? He was selling himself for a job. When he left the party, he was told to expect a call. There was a job opening and Rachel called herself. But there was more to the story. What brad didn't know was that Rachel was at work on a reality show. The previous person didn't want to be on television. Brad would have to be involved w/ the show if he wanted the job. Shooting began in January.
Brad had his doubts. He weighted his options. If he decided to go w/ Rachel, Brad would have to immediately give his 2 weeks notice. After talking it over w/ Gary that night, Rachel Zoe was offering Brad his dream job. At first, Brad wasn't interested. But, Gary convinced to do different. Brad was afraid he would burn bridges at Vogue'. Brad looked at what was compared to what could be? To ally his fears, Rachel set up a dinner for EVERYONE that was to be involved w/ the show. Sitting at the table next to them was one of Gary's best friends who was dining w/ Jodie Foster. Brad was trying not to stare.
Brad had already lined up a shoot for Alaska in 2 days. Rachel wanted his answer when he returned. On this trip, Brad proved to himself and his boss, that he did belong in this world. And to belong was ALL Brad ever wanted. in a way, Brad's training at Vogue was perfect prep for life w/ Rachel. Brad sent Rachel an e-mail letting her know that he would take the job.
|Mother & Daughter (Goldie & Kate)|
Tensions were rising between Brad & Rachel's 2ND assistant, Taylor. Taylor began talking and treating Brad like a child. Taylor would rant at the cameras. Brad had to be resourceful and use the tools he learned at AA. If he really said what he wanted to say, Brad would've been fired. He had given up all credibility and his career trajectory to be on a TV show and although he hadn't seen any footage, Brad knew how he'd be perceived on-camera. He just felt that taking this job may have been a mistake. A rash panic move. He felt he had let a 24-yr-old blonde girl walk all over him.
Brad had learned that you can't let people take opportunities away from you. He developed a tougher skin. He insisted on keeping the lines of communication open w/ Taylor. He stood up for himself. It made all the difference. They were soon supporting each other. Brad doesn't regret crying on-camera. It was REAL even though it's hard to escape. He would receive fan mail from young gay lads across the country reaching out telling Brad he gave them hope. The courage to come out and be themselves. By being himself, Brad had given others the courage to do the same.
Working for Rachel was the best professional experience of his life. He left in part, because he didn't want to be another Taylor. He didn't want to take being on-set for granted. It wasn't that his work was slipping, but Brad didn't feel that drive in his heart anymore. The fire was out. The only way to get it back was to work for himself. (It wasn't that he wasn't grateful for the job and opportunity, it was just that Brad didn't want to be stuck as an assistant.) Brad didn't want to do anything behind Rachel's back. He was up-front w/ her. He wanted her to know why he was leaving. He was on a fitting job in another country before he genuinely realized he could do this job on his own. Brad felt secure in his duties and everyone was happy. Brad went from relying on others to relying on himself.
When it's time to no longer need a safety net, that's when it's time to take a leap. Brad didn't leave Rachel because she changed. He left because he did. Because he had something to say. It was not the beginning of Brad the Fabulous, it was the beginning of Brad the Stylist. When he finally made the move, Brad was terrified. He was very honest w/ Rachel and her husband, Rodger. Although the question has been out, Brad NEVER solicited a client from Rachel. He wanted to jump into his own, but where would the jump lead him?
Although Brad didn't announce his split from Rachel until Sept. 29TH, he actually gave his notice in July. Bad was being invited to TV shows and to parties. But why? He was a TV personality without a TV show. He was also a stylist without clients. 'The New York Times' sent a reporter to follow Brad to do a story of him as the "breakout star" of 'The Rachel Zoe Project'. During Fashion Week of that year, Brad met up w/ Rachel, Rodger & Rachel's sister, Pam. They had lunch and the moment felt a celebratory & sad all at once. They began going through pictures and old times together. It was heartbreaking. It was the end of a very special era and a time Brad would never have again. To him, Brad felt it was a good-bye. His first job on his own was for 'Entertainment Weekly' styling Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal for the cover of their film 'Love & Other Drugs'. The magazine offered it to Rachel, but she was pregnant and couldn't fly to New York. So they called Brad and he was on the first flight out.
There was speculation that Brad wanted to poach Anne to be a client. If it were anyone, Brad would've poached Jake. He/Brad wanted to establish himself as a men's stylist and Jake was one of his dream clients. At least, Brad was excited again. He could feel anticipation and promise. He was walking in those shows pretending he belonged. Now here he was again, fighting to prove himself. Brad was home in L.A. when his phone buzzed w/ a text from Joe Zee wanting Brad to style some of his work for him. When word leaked out of Brad's work, more jobs followed. He was called by 'InStyle Magazine'. They took a chance on him. At the end of the successful shoot of the magazine, InStyle offered Brad, later on, a 3-story contract. He must've done something right.
Brad was developing his voice. It had been six months since he gave his notice. He was busy, but not busy enough. Brad wondered if he had leaped too soon? Did he have what it took to be a boss? In March 2011, The Hollywood Reporter named Brad one of 25's Most Powerful Stylists. He had some big-name clients and a camera crew following him for a reality show called, 'It's A Brad, Brad World' he was filming for 'Bravo'. Even w/ this success, Brad was still working out of his garage. Gary KNEW something Brad HAD to learn: It takes money to make money. It was time to take it up a notch. His work was getting noticed and people were beginning to see Brad as a stylist more than a TV personality. Brad thought it would be time to invest in himself. If he gave off the appearance of success, the work would follow. So, Brad needed an assistant.
While I personally and thoroughly loved and enjoyed reading Brad's story . . . . . all I'm saying is that I wished there was more "story" rather than "style" throughout the entirety of this book.