Prospective and retrospective is where you can find Chicago designer Bryan K Osburn. As his career is running hot, he recently took a moment to reflect on the past 30 years of his fashion design with a stunning collection of his signature pieces gracing the runway. The tribute was reflective and simultaneously a harbinger of great things to come. Much like his mentor Vera Wang, Bryan K Osburn has been steady and determined in building his line of luxury bridal and couture evening gowns. As a consequence, his designs have been worn by Miss America 1994 Kenya Moore, the late Natalie Cole, Phyliss Hyman, Patti LaBelle, Diana Ross, opera singer Kathleen Battle, actresses Sheri Headley, Valerie Pittford, and Erica Alexander, to name just a few.
We sat down with Bryan yesterday to get a peek into how he began and to get some insight into his creative process.
What were the first steps you took in the world of fashion?
BKO: My first step in the world of fashion was learning about fabrics and basic sewing — my mom taught me that.
Where did you receive your training?
BKO: I received my training from three places, deign school in Chicago (Ray Vogue College) now called The Illinois Institute of Art; the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and then by actually working in the industry.
Did you begin as an apprentice or intern in another fashion house or did you just start out on your own?
BKO: I started as an intern for bridal designer Vera Wang right out of design college, and later I was an assistant to various bridal designers on 7th ave.
Can you tell us a bit about your current project/s? What is the mood of your latest collection?
BKO: My current project —just completed— was my anniversary show, celebrating my 30 wonderful years in the industry making custom evening, prom and bridal gowns. I presented a collection that I called the NOIR Collection that featured a 30 piece collection of black dresses from past and present collections.
Where do you find inspiration for this current collection as well as past collections?
BKO: My inspiration for past and preset collections comes from everywhere: new and old movies, fabrics, music, paintings, architecture, my friends and my family.
What drives you to work/to continue making collections each season? Where does the desire to design come from?
BKO: My desire to keep designing and work to produce future collections simply comes from the love I have for fashion and the industry, it’s truly my first love, it’s in my DNA.
What in your personal life or in your history most influences your views on fashion?
BKO: What influences me most in my personal life, or really my history are my parents, esp. my mother — she was one of my very first and deeply significant inspirations; there were also various aunts who were always so-o-o put together!
Why do you design in Chicago?
BKO: I design in Chicago because its my hometown! I moved away, and was out of Chicago, working for 22 years, I lived in NYC, Provence France and Charlotte NC — and they were good for me during my time there, but I am glad to be back home.
What would you like to see happen in the Chicago area to help the fashion industry to grow?
BKO: What I’d love to see happen in Chicago is for our local media and talk shows, like Windy City Live and other Chicago morning talk shows, to introduce a local Chicago designer each month by featuring the designer on air with a fashion show!! That would help the industry so much!
Any advice for the student to design?
BKO: My advice: …stay focused, don’t ever give up, stay open to learn new things and learn the craft and learn from our rich history of designers.