By Kaitlin Candelaria
Bradford Billingsley has a long list of accolades, from recently receiving top honors on the fashion reality show “Project Runway: Threads” to being featured in Seventeen magazine. He is definitely working on making a name for himself. Billingsley is also only 13 years old.
Billingsley said he began drawing at age 4. His first sketches featured Egyptian headdresses and ancient Egyptian clothing. His work began to evolve when he found his first muse — Taylor Swift.
“I spent a weekend throwing together 70 different drawings to give to her,” Billingsley said. “I went to a meet and greet and gave them to her, and she said I was very talented. She wrote ‘You must like your art as much as I like my music.’ That’s when I was 9 or 10.”
Billingsley, now an eighth-grader at Pizitz Middle School, describes his style as edgy and sexy high-end couture. He has been featured in Birmingham Fashion Week’s Rising Star Competition for the past two years, placing third in 2013 and second in 2012. This year, he will be featured as Fashion Week’s first “Up and Coming Designer.”
On May 9, Billingsley will spotlight a small collection of four pieces. All of them are very much his true style — very edgy and sexy, he said.
As a part of his prize package for winning “Project Runway: Threads,” Billingsley was featured in Seventeen and will also be attending fashion camp in Los Angeles this year.
“I feel like I’m going to learn a lot there,” Billingsley said. “From there, I would like to go to Central Saint Martins in London where Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney and all my favorite designers went to school. From there, I want to intern at major fashion labels and then progress into starting my own label.”
Billingsley’s mother, Dana, credits a lot of his success thus far to Birmingham Fashion Week.
“When he competed on ‘Project Runway,’ the two other contestants were from Oregon and Los Angeles, and yet Bradford was the only one who had runway experience,” she said. “Without Birmingham Fashion Week, he never would have had that opportunity.”
She said it’s also sometimes “still kind of weird” being the mother of a rising fashion star.
“It’s surreal,” she said. “It’s different. This year at Fashion Week, we won’t have to worry about the competition part. It’s his first debut, so it’s very exciting and very special.”