Q&A with Jason Bray

In Sequins Productions costumer Jason Bray

Jason Bray at the Michael Curry Design costume shop

Jason Bray at the Michael Curry Design costume shop

I met Jason Bray several years ago while we were both working at Portland Opera. Eventually, I would ask Jason to create my Liberace wardrobe.  He works on a lot of interesting projects, so it seemed fitting that I introduce him to all of you.  I think you'll enjoy the following discussion I had with him.

Portland Opera & Michael Curry Design

Portland Opera's  Rinaldo.   Design:  Jacob Climer

Portland Opera's Rinaldo.  Design:  Jacob Climer

David:  What work did you do at Portland Opera?

Jason:  I was their First Hand, Assistant Shop Manager, and Design Assistant.  We built several new productions for Portland Opera, most of which I was the Design Assistant for (Rinaldo/Galileo Galilei/Postcard from Morocco).  The designer is never in town, so the Design Assistant is responsible for doing all the shopping and communicating with the shop.  I’ve done lots of work with designer Sue Bonde.  Lots of detail!  Lots of gold trim!  BLING!  See, working with you is the culmination of all my training because of Sue Bonde being my mentor, and she’s the queen of bling.

David:  And what do you do now for Michael Curry Design?

Jason:  I'm a Fabric Artist.  Projects that are more costume related come to me.  Things that have tight deadlines.  I do a lot of dye work.  I work on a lot of projects that require specialty sourcing of materials, which is how I discovered the LA garment district.  I also source from China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and Taiwan.  The textiles we got for the Dementor project came from Japan.

David:  Let's talk about Japan!  How long were you there and what were you doing?

Jason:  I was in Osaka, Japan three times from December through May at Harry Potter World in Universal Studios.  We were building flying Dementors for their “Expecto Patronum Night Show.”  

Promo photo for "Expecto Patronum Night Show" at Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan

Promo photo for "Expecto Patronum Night Show" at Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan

David:  Was this the first time you’ve worked overseas?

Jason:  No,  I also worked at Shanghai Disneyland last year.  I was at their Grand Opening Celebration doing costumes and props.

David:  You must have some interesting people show up at Michael Curry’s.

Jason:  We get client visits from Disney and Universal Studios all the time.  Siegfried from Siegfried & Roy has been here because he’s friends with Michael (Curry).  Steve Wynn is another of his friends that makes appearances.  Who else?  It was a bummer that Michael Jackson was never here.  We did all the puppetry for his “This is It” tour.  A couple of my colleagues are in the “This is It” documentary that was made from the rehearsal footage for the tour. 

For Fun

David:  I know that you listen to music while you work.  What music has inspired you?

Jason:  At the opera I tortured people with some of my music tastes.  Most notably Philip Glass.  I have quite a Glass collection.  I find his music to be so focusing.  Lately I’ve been listening to Eydie Gorme & Steve, the Nirvana Unplugged album, opera, classical music, and Liberace.

David:  What do you eventually want to make for Jillian?

Jason:  I need to make her some kind of Bob Mackie-Liza Minnelli outfit!  Mackie designed for everybody… the Carol Burnett Show, Cher…  The quintessential Liza outfit is the sparkle jumpsuit.  Black or red.

David:  If you could design and build costumes for anyone, who would it be?

Jason:  It used to be Lady Gaga.  Definitely RuPaul.  I’m also in love with this guy, Perfume Genius.  I’d love to costume him. 

The Next Liberace Outfit!

David:  I’m sitting here looking at swatches of the Liberace Christmas costume you are making for me.  You are creating it.  It’s not based on an actual Liberace outfit. 

Jason:  Well, there’s a Liberace style I’m trying to emulate.   He originated this style.  All these people that came after him, like Elton John and Prince, emulated him.  One of the major inspirations for your Christmas outfit is from my book about the Russian Master Goldsmith’s Faberge eggs.  There’s a template that I’m following, but I’m dressing it differently;  gold and green and red sparkle, plaid, poinsettias, jingle bells, and holly. 

And finally, for the kids

David:  What do you have to say to children who would like to have a job like yours?

Jason:  Being a doctor or lawyer is nice!  No…  you don’t have to go to a fancy school and pay a lot of money.  A degree in design is great, but you go to a firm like Michael Curry’s and there’s ONE designer.  Learn as much as you can from home or a private sewing tutor.  Try to get an internship.  Get in ground level somewhere and don’t put yourself in debt over it!  You should definitely learn how to sew, know your way around a sewing machine, but most importantly be able to take direction.  That’s what I look for when hiring.  Can someone take direction?   I want people who listen, have some sort of skill to build on, and be willing to improve.  Most of my best stitchers have been retired people and those who have learned from home. 

But what about Project Runway?

Jason:  You can’t be doing this for any recognition or stardom.  Project Runway is NOT reality!  It’s fun, but it’s not real.  It’s a fantasy that you’re going to be a star and that these outfits are busted out in an hour. 

Thank you for reading, folks!  And thank you to Jason Bray for taking the time to answer a few questions.  If YOU have any questions that you would like to ask Jason, please leave them in the comments section below.

- David


P.S.  To see Jason's Liberace outfits in action, check out our GALLERY & VIDEO page.

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