If you ever wondered where fashion, art, interiors and real estate could possibly intersect, look no further than Bradley Bayou. He has been called “The Couture Developer” — a moniker that reflects his 35-year career that has included a launch in commercial real estate, an eponymous couture line worn by everyone from Oprah to Beyoncé and Anne Hathaway, and an acclaimed interior design firm lauded by Architectural Digest, Elle Décor and Dwell.
“Growing up, my parents would drive us around and look at houses,” explains the Dallas native. “When I first got into business, I started in commercial real estate and marketing. I became involved with many well-known architects in Los Angeles, from Frank Gehry to Richard Meier. The more I learned, the more my fascination with architecture grew. But I ended up getting into the fashion business by accident.”
It was during the 1980s — at the age of 33 — that the MBA graduate stumbled into the fashion industry after a hand-painted vest he designed was picked up by Fred Segal. The Bayou Vest became an instant sensation. Neiman Marcus soon followed with a commission to design a custom women’s collection and couture collection. His fashion success did little to stifle his passion for real estate and architecture, however. Bayou continued to purchase and design homes for both himself and friends. Since then, he has flipped more than 30 homes and amassed a real estate portfolio that includes three residences he designed in the Hollywood Hills, Marina del Rey and Palm Springs. In 2010, he launched his firm, Bradley Bayou Design, and quickly garnered a dedicated client following.
Who could be a more fitting authority to discuss the places where art, fashion, interior design and real estate meet? We recently caught up with Bayou, who will be a Legends 2018 panelist for “Flipping for Design,” a keynote discussion with Ryan Brown and Chris Cortazzo of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Malibu, moderated by Frank Fontana. He is also painting a work of art for “Color My World,” a special charity auction at Legends 2018 benefiting ACRIA’s Artists Ending AIDS Fund at GMHC, kicking off on Tuesday, May 8, 2018, with a private cocktail party at the Dragonette store on La Cienega Boulevard.
Coldwell Banker Global Luxury You’ve been called “The Couture Developer.” What do you typically look for when you’re buying a property, either for yourself or for spec?
Bradley Bayou It always goes back to “location, location, location.” I always think about appreciation. I always advise my clients to not buy in an area and overspend. The other quality I look for is light. And there is something to be said for the intangible qualities of a house. Sometimes it just feels “right.” Light often does that. You feel happy. Everyone has that instinct. Some of these homes that are experiments in architecture may not actually be places where you feel happy and light. I am focused on creating a warm and functional house. I call it “functional art.”
Coldwell Banker Global Luxury Do you think there will be more crossover between the worlds of fashion, art, interiors and real estate in the future? It seems to me that there is already a niche of affluent Angelenos who expect a completely curated lifestyle experience.
Bradley Bayou Yes. Why not? I already do a lot of that for my clients already, whether it’s helping them buy art or pick out silverware. Often, they will just say, “I want to live like you.” I’m finding more and more clients ask me to curate everything because they don’t have the time or the skill. They want to trust somebody completely with their homes. And you know what? I would love to pick out their clothes, too! I could have this whole fantasy of style for their lives.
Coldwell Banker Global Luxury How has your fashion experience guided your interior design?
Bradley Bayou My experience has helped me understand fabrics, color, texture and balance. Because when you design a dress, it must balance out the woman’s body. It’s the same for a room. To create balance in a room, it has to be incredibly functional.
Coldwell Banker Global Luxury You’re not afraid to say, “Function comes first.” It made me think of the old modernist adage, “Form follows function.”
Bradley Bayou A lot of people don’t start with function, which is always surprising to me. When I take on a project, I think about everything. How is the space going to be used? How many people will be seated at the dining room table? Do you need an office? Is there going to be a bottleneck in the house? Sometimes clients will say that they want to be able to entertain in a large, open space, but that’s not the way people socialize. You need to have vignettes and intimate gathering areas where people can sit and talk to each other. You have to think about how people really live and function. Once I get the function down, then I start layering the colors and textures. I learned this balancing effect from doing clothes. The eye sees balance. If it’s out of balance, people don’t feel comfortable.
Coldwell Banker Global Luxury In your Hollywood Hills home, how did you want it to function?
Bradley Bayou The house is located on an interior lot and higher up, so I knew that if I twisted the house sideways, I could capture the views that didn’t exist when I bought the property. I wanted the house to blend into nature and not fight with nature. I did not want to build a big white box. So I decided to use stone to match the hillside. Inside, I used sky blues, so when you are on the inside looking out, you feel one with nature.
Coldwell Banker Global Luxury Do you approach your art in the same way? How so?
Bradley Bayou No. Art is freedom. In art, especially conceptual art, it’s about making people feel an emotion. It’s about a moment in time. Fashion has never been art; it’s always been functional art. The same is true with furniture and houses. In the art world, there are no limitations. It’s whatever you want it to be. It’s an exercise in having no one tell me what my restrictions are.
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