Thursday, March 25, 2010

What I want to be When I Grow Up

It started out simple. I just wanted to grow up. And grow out. I can't tell you how many times my dad would catch me with tennis balls stuffed in my bathing suit.
Tennis was a HUGE part of my life growing up. I was always on the court watching my Dad, chasing balls...and wearing my favorite whites. I wanted to be Chris Evert Lloyd, and played tennis against a ball machine for hours.
In highschool it continued, and at this point I was pretty sure Tennis was going to be my life. It was my life in high school, with a side order of Salisbury boys.
When I was too old for Tennis camp, it was time for a 'real' job...and my first job at 15 was working at Minnewaska State Park on the Maintenance Crew. Finally being tall was good (it sucked at high school dances when all the boys were shorter) But now I looked older, and my Boss had me driving the Crew truck around assuming I was old enough! That in itself was HEAVEN. I learned to use a chainsaw, spackle walls and change the oil on a dozer, not to mention drive a big dump truck. Not exactly the background of a girl designing dresses for Black Tie and is it?
By now I was at Columbia in NYC, still with no idea of what I wanted to do. I joined the sailing team, drank enough to damage my voice for eternity and took a semester off to write a children's hopes of that getting me into Princeton where my Dad was class of '54. Only, I got my hands on my Dad's old Nikon F camera, and decided to photograph climbers in the Gunks instead. The Children's book could wait...and so could Princeton.
That Summer I life guarded on Fisher's Island and thus began the calling of the Ocean...
The following summer was life guarding in Newport at Hazards Beach...but life guarding wasn't going to turn into a profession unless Baywatch came my way, so onto sailing it was.

I crewed on the 12's in Newport, namely the beauty Nefertiti. Learned a lot, and realized I could do this for real if I I was still unsure of what to do.
My last summer before graduating from Trinity I worked at Rockwell Group, a pretty incredible Architecture firm in NYC. David Rockwell, its namesake, rented a log cabin from us at our country place, Awosting. That summer I discovered I loved DESIGN. I loved architecture. I love the creative process that went into the details and how they affected those within a given space.

Rockwell Group has done everything from Nobu, a fabulous sushi restaurant in NYC to the set of this years academy awards. When I left that summer with a job offer upon graduation, one of the sweet girls in the Interiors department gave me a cloth bag that looked like a brown shopping bag. I sewed some ribbon on it...and thus began the CK Bradley tote...THANK YOU ROCKWELL GROUP!

I was on my own from there on. And TRUST me...despite having a fashionable mother, I was one of the LAST persons at Trinity that you would have thought would go onto design clothes. Classmates would have bet more on my teaching at Outward Bound.

It's funny how things turn out. Variety can breed opportunity, it certainly did for me.

-Go Seize the Day, Bradley

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sneak Spring Peak!

I get SO excited for Spring and Summer...not only because I live by the beach and the sailors return, but mostly because I LOVE COLOR, and with Summer comes more color.

The design process happens much differently for me than for most who went to school for fashion design. I dream it up, chicken scratch it and play with it. Play with color, play with prints, play with vintage numbers hibernating in the warehouse...just plain play.

And this year we are manufacturing in Fall River, MA...good old USA! There will be silks, batistes, stretch sateens and prints in heavenly colors...and here's the sneak peak.
I always seem to gravitate to kelly green. It is fresh and I love it.
And who am I kidding...I LOVE corals and oranges
The main print in this drawing is one we call 'Moroccan Geo' inspired by all the geometrics in Morocco. I was in a wedding there a few years back, and was forever changed.
We sipped foreign concoctions in the most intricate tents...These guys played music while we sipped. It seemed everywhere you looked were more beautiful patterns and textures...and a few years down the road CK Bradley's Moroccan Geo was born.

The new Spring line arrives May 1.

-Finishing Touches, Bradley

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Way Back When - How I got to Newport

yusha auchincloss and camilla bradley hammersmith farmThis was my first post ever posted back in July of last year, but posts get buried, and I thought you guys might enjoy this story, since it will provide good background for ones to come!

It all started on an island called Sanibel at dawn, on the first day of Spring. If you like sea shell collecting, this is a great place to go. My Dad somehow convinced my Mom (his girlfriend at the time) and his colleague, Yusha Auchincloss, to get up at dawn so they could get the best shells. Barefoot and sandy, my father, John Atwater Bradley, proposed to AND married my mother, Marilyn Monteith Bower that day. Yusha (above in 2008 with Me) was the Best Man and became my Godfather.

Mind you, I am skipping A LOT on how this event came to happen....from my Dad spending the previous night in Jail, getting a last minute marriage license, not to mention finding a minister to perform the ceremony at dawn. But that is a story for another day. So we'll move on.

Why Newport? Well, with Yusha as extended family, we made annual summer trips to Hammersmith Farm in Newport, RI.philip bradley hammersmith farm This Pic is of my brother, David in front of the "Big House" at Hammersmith in the '70's

yusha auchincloss hammersmith farm with camilla bradleys brotherDavid Bradley, Jamie Auchinlcoss and Yusha Auchincloss: Windmill at Hammersmith Farm in background. 1970's

I didn't really understand the significance of Hammersmith Farm growing up, nor did I understand why buses and ferries full of tourists flailing cameras would pull up to the dock on a regular schedule. I do know now, and in case you don't, Hammersmith Farm was the Summer White House during the Kennedy Years from 1961-1963. Built in 1887, for John W. Auchincloss on Newport's oldest working farm, Hammersmith, was the summer residence for the Auchlincloss family for 4 generations. Jackie Bouvier's mom, Janet Lee, married Hugh D. Auchincloss after divorcing Blackjack Bouvier who took to the bottle after the market crashed (or so I was told).
1945, Newport. Jackie top left, Yusha top right, Janet Auchincloss in Lee's arms.

Here is where it gets cute. Yusha, a young boy then, attending Groton School, was SO very excited about Jackie becoming part of the family. He remembers thinking she could be possible girlfriend material...not really understanding that they were 'related' now that their parents were married. Love it Yusha. And you had good taste Yusha, Jackie sure was cute.

There was always a week or so growing up that my Dad, me, the bird and whatever dogs we had would make the pilgrimage to Newport for the 'social' part of our summer. This time for me was TRULY vacation. And I say 'social' because the rest of my summer was spent in the Gunks, at our place called the Awosting Reserve.
awosting reserveAt Awosting, I slept outside every night, took baths in the stream, and had rigourous daily lessons and activities taught by my English Au Pair. Math skills never improved, I HATED swim time in our fresh water black bottomed pool, and washing my hair with the crayfish biting my toes was not normal.

The black bottomed pool...

Stream Baths with the Crayfish

So IMAGINE how excited I was to go to Newport where I got to put on pretty dresses, took a bath in a bath, got to sleep inside, and had going to the Beach and Cocktail parties on my schedule for the day. H E A V E N. My room was the top floor of the Windmill overlooking Narragansett bay. Mmmmmmm.

windmill hammersmith farm ck bradleyOK...might have chopped off the top floor, but you get the picture. It was a big change from my mountain top mattress beneath the stars.

And then came dress up. Newport meant no hiking boots, no sneakers. It meant party shoes and party skirts. It meant counting blades of grass instead of cutting and raking them. I loved Newport.

Hammersmith Farm, Windmill for Yusha's Birthday
Me(in a dress!), Dad, and Pyrma and John Pell

My passion for dress making certainly had a few of it's origins in this beachy leisure town...

And that's the story of how I got to Newport.

camilla bradley and godfather yusha auchinclossYusha Auchinloss and Me: Awosting Reserve, circa 1982

-Still Wear my Dresses that Short, Bradley

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Way Back When...Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali. Mad genius. Spanish surrealist. Wearer of pin stripe suits. Fascinating eccentric who had a 'thing' for my Mom.

They met one day through Carlos Alemany, who spun Dali's surrealistic creations into jewels. By their second meeting, Dali presented my Mom with one of Alemany's jewels...a ruby pin with a LIVE incandescent beetle attached...yes. LIVE. Beauty EXPONENTIALLY increases when it is fleeting I suppose....

In the early 60's Dali gained a lot of publicity in his search for the last color to finish his Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus. For weeks he searched the sewers of NYC hoping to find the missing color! Oh eccentrics....

Then Dad gets a call at home.

It's Dali. He wants to see Mom and Rudy, the parrot. He always ignored Dad completely.
marilyn bradley and black headed caique rudyMom and Rudy

Dad had had enough of Dali and his enormous entourage coming into the apartment, and suggested they meet at Rumplemeyers, a fabulous ice cream spot at the St. Moritz. It was Sunday afternoon, and Dad, Mom and Rudy often shared an ice cream after bicycle polo in the park. (yes, bicycle polo...)
Rudy would perch on the top of the tall sundae cup in absolute ice cream parrot heaven, and lick it clean.
Just as they finished, Rumplemeyers went dark...Dali and his entourage had arrived. The cloud of people stayed outside as Dali swept in through the revolving door.

And what was sewn into Dali's right shoulder of his pin striped suit? A bird perch!!! After else would you meet a parrot on a Sunday afternoon...

He cupped his hand beneath Rudy now sitting on the pin striped perch and directs him to 'pew pew'. Dad has had about enough of this, and directs Rudy to 'poo poo'. Sure enough, Rudy ruffles his feathers, and dumps right in Dali's hand. (This was surely inspired by the 18th Century artist, Jauques Louis David, who finished his last great painting with the caca de dauphin, or the crown Prince's poop color...Dali might have thought Rudy's poop was a worthy 20th Century adaptation. )

Dali disappears through the revolving doors as fast as he came in, and it is suddenly light again outside as the cloud of onlookers follow him down Central Park South.
The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus is announced as finally finished soon after. And in the Bradley family, we like to think it was Rudy that did the trick...or at least got Dali OUT of the sewers.

-Love Eccentrics, Bradley.