Jack Sullivan comes from good design stock. A Brisbane boy through and through, he has been designing classically elegant yet beautifully modern wedding gowns for blushing brides up and down the country since 2012, and his star continues to rise. Having recently returned from New York, Jack spoke to us about his creative journey so far, including obvious early influences and his own personal style.
TGW: First up, how was New York International Bridal Week? Do you find a big difference in the American bridal aesthetic, compared with Australia?
JS: New York bridal fashion week was fun, although I wasn’t showing there this year. I have been asked to, so I decided to check it out first before committing, and really enjoyed it. There is a lace supplier I love to visit there and New York is my favourite city in the world. I couldn’t say no!
TGW: Jack Sullivan Bridal launched in 2012, although by this time you had already learned much from your own mum, award-winning bridal designer Wendy Sullivan. Tell us more about deciding to follow a similar path, yet finding a creative vision entirely your own – did you feel self-conscious at first?
JS: It was weird, On one level I felt VERY self-conscious about designing under my own label. It sounds odd, however being male and involved in the business side of the industry first, people automatically assumed I wouldn’t be able to design. There was definitely a lot of criticism (mainly competitors) before I had even released a collection. What did play on my mind a lot was that I didn’t want to be compared with my mother and just be a weaker version of Wendy Sullivan. So I spent far too much energy in my first two collections trying not to be like her. However, my personality is pretty large and can upset people from time to time, so there were plenty of critics before they had even seen my work! There are no words to describe how little I cared about what they thought and so I just did my thing.
“A thick skin is vital in the business, especially when starting out.”
TGW: Your Spring/Summer 2015 collection was a hit at Brisbane Fashion Week this year. Do you ever get pre-runway nerves?
JS: With Bridal shows I think I have probably been involved in over a hundred, so I don’t get that nervous really. However, as this year was only my second evening wear collection, I definitely got a little nervous before that.
TGW: Your website describes you as an ‘atypical bridal designer’ with a ‘talent for customising to every bride’s desires’. What is your own process when it comes to consulting with a bride-to-be in order to make the perfect bespoke dress?
JS: Unfortunately we don’t do custom orders anymore, as the downside to international expansion means that I’m rarely ever in the same city for more than a week. So doing custom gowns isn’t really logical these days.
TGW: In all honesty, have you met many Bridezillas?
JS: Yes… Yes I have. But more ‘Mother/Mother-in-lawzillas’ or Brides maids…or “friends”. Most brides are lovely, however it is more likely that someone in the extended entourage will try and create drama for whatever reason. It doesn’t happen too often though.
TGW: I know a couple of brides who may walk down the aisle in 2016. What fabrics and shapes can you foresee as trending?
JS: Bold geometric laces are really popular. I did a gown called “Sian” in my last collection that was really popular, so I will definitely head in that style direction a lot more. Pearls over heavy silver beading is happening as well.
Trending: “Bold geometric laces are really popular…pearls over heavy silver beading is happening as well.”
TGW: Describe your own personal style. Any favourite menswear designers in particular?
JS: I have a pretty changing style, but am often in a t-shirt and jeans. However, I like it to be a nice t-shirt and jeans. I love Brisbane but it is so hot a lot of the time – you can be rather restricted with styling, and I obviously have to dress up a lot. So my look would probably be best described as “European”. Among my favourite local menswear designers are Pistols at Dawn and Wil Valor, with my favourite menswear stores being The Cloakroom and Clay Rondo. I also really like Sydney-based designer Brent Wilson.
All images sourced from @jacksullivandesigns on Instagram.