Bruce Oldfield

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- npg number matching 'x27936'

© John Swannell / Camera Press

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Bruce Oldfield

by John Swannell
bromide print, 1985
15 1/8 in. x 11 in. (384 mm x 304 mm)
Given by John Swannell, 1986
Photographs Collection
NPG x27936

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • John Swannell (1946-), Photographer. Artist or producer of 128 portraits, Sitter in 2 portraits.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Rogers, Malcolm, Camera Portraits, 1989 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 20 October 1989 - 21 January 1990), p. 307 Read entry

    One of Britain’s leading fashion designers, and a favourite of the Princess of Wales, Oldfield’s reputation is based on his ability to create glamorous, sophisticated clothes which are also practical. He was brought up in a Dr Barnardo’s children’s home, and after a spell at teacher-training college, went to St Martin’s College of Art, London. After an unsuccessful début in New York, he worked freelance, with assignments in Paris designing shoes for Yves St Laurent and furs for Dior. He opened his own salon in Knightsbridge in 1975 with a bank loan of £1,000. There he produced designer collections of high fashion clothes for the United Kingdom and overseas market. Six years later he began making couture clothes for individual clients, who now include members of the Royal Family, Joan Collins, Charlotte Rampling and Bianca Jagger. He opened the first Bruce Oldfield retail shop selling ready-to-wear and couture in 1984.

    John Swannell left school at sixteen, and worked as a messenger with Keystone Press, as an assistant at Vogue Studios, and subsequently with David Bailey. He went freelance in 1973, and has travelled widely, mainly for fashion magazines, including Vogue. His work has appeared in Harper’s & Queen, The Tatler, The Sunday Telegraph, The Sunday Times, Interview and Ritz. He has published Fine Lines (1982) and The Naked Landscape (1986). In this cool and elegant portrait of Oldfield the strong diagonal of the sitter’s back and the cropping at the hairline concentrate attention on Oldfield’s frankly assessing stare.

Events of 1985back to top

Current affairs

55 people die in the Manchester air disaster when a British Airtours Boeing 737 bursts into flames after an aborted takeoff at Manchester International Airport.

Art and science

Bob Geldof and Midge Ure organise Live Aid, a rock concert in London and Philadelphia, to raise funds for famine relief. The biggest names in popular music, including Paul McCartney, Queen, Status Quo, The Police, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, U2, The Who, and Led Zeppelin, performed to a TV audience of 1.5 billion.
The British Antarctic Survey discovers a hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica.


Reformer Mikhail Gorbachev comes to power as first secretary of the Soviet Communist party. He calls for 'glasnost' (openness) in Soviet life, and pursues a policy of 'perestroika' (reconstruction).
French intelligence operatives sabotage Rainbow Warrior, the Greenpeace vessel. The ship was leading a protest against French nuclear testing in New Zealand when it was bombed and sunk, killing one of the twelve on board.

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