Somehow, between all of the tears, the fights and the gossip, Brad Goreski has come to be respected. It’s a pretty impressive accomplishment when your celebrity birthing comes at the hands of a Bravo reality TV show about Hollywood stylist Rachel Zoe.
But there he is at Fashion Week with his signature bow tie and heavy frames, surrounded by normally composed fashion designers and editors swooning to sing his praises. “Brad has become a style icon for this entire new generation of young, cool, preppy, dapper guys,” said Elle’s Joe Zee in a glowing New York Times profile on Goreski in 2010.
With a world quick to villainize hordes of Housewives, it says a lot about Goreski’s charm, over-the-top character and overall authenticity that he’s as loved as he is. It is a formula the he hopes will take his personal brand to the next level in 2012. It helps that he has two high-profile projects to kick things off: a style guide and memoir, Born to Be Brad: Life and Style Lessons from the Front Lines of Fashion, which will be released in February; and the January premiere of It’s a Brad, Brad World, his new reality show for Bravo that will chronicle the 34-year-old, Canadian-born stylist as he attempts to strike out on his own, post-Rachel Zoe Project while balancing a home life with his longtime boyfriend, Family Guy writer Gary Janetti.
“I’m not an actor; I’m just myself,” says Goreski one sunny morning in November. Goreski is visiting New York from his home in Los Angeles for GMHC’s Fashion Forward, for which he acted as the event’s marquee host. He is chatty and quick to joke with the makeup artist. They gush over Adele’s amazing vocals, and fashionistas they know in common. However, Goreski is noticeably quieter than expected, focused on the task at hand. “I obviously have high-energy days where I am super chatty and very communicative and low energy days where I just want to be alone,” he admits. “When people meet me they expect me to be like, ‘Oh my god! Let’s go shopping! This is so fun! Let me tell you about the latest trend!’…I am warning everybody [that] I cry a lot [on It’s a Brad, Brad World].”
It was love, not fashion, that first brought Goreski to Los Angeles. He was born in the picturesque Ontario town of Port Perry and early ambitions led him to drama school in Toronto, where he was told he was “too gay” to play leading roles. But then, on a chance vacation in Greece, he met the older Janetti. It was love at first sight. “We connected on a level that I wasn’t used to, like on the level of humor and fashion,” he says of their meeting.
Even though that meeting was over 10 years ago, Brad World is the first time Goreski is openly talking about his private life. “[The Rachel Zoe Project] wasn’t about my life. It didn’t make sense for me to have my boyfriend on and [have] us do a scene about me not being able to find a dress for Anne Hathaway. What does that matter?” But once Bravo approached him about his own show, Goreski saw no way of making it without the real people in his life. Plus, he adds, “it turns out that my boyfriend and I are fun to watch. We were just ourselves all the way through.”
But while Goreski insists It’s a Brad, Brad World is just an honest portrait of his current life, even he cannot deny the show will be one of reality TV’s only full-time depictions of a real, committed gay couple. Something that even Bravo has not fully tackled until now. “[My boyfriend and I] have been together for 10 years and it’s extremely loving and genuine. We don’t flip tables at each other, storm out on each other or [act unkindly] to each other,” he explains. “Part of the reason why I did the show was because I do think it’s important for people to have a glimpse into…what’s it like for two grown men to have a normal life together? What’s it like to go home and [have] the person that you walk in the door to and you count as your rock be another man? What does that look like? We eat pizza, hang out with our dog, go around the world together.”
But being such a role model is not always easy, and Goreski says the limelight can still be a hurtful place, especially for someone with his sometimes-flamboyant tendencies. “Yeah, I’ve had [tweets] like, ‘Why give this drama-queen fag a show? Can he just die already?’ If you watch the show and know anything about me you know I’m very much about celebration. I’m very nice to people. I’m very inclusive and harmless. I find it kind of funny that there are people out there that care enough to send things like that… If you don’t like me then don’t tweet me.” But it just inspires Goreski to keep putting his image out there for others to see.
Besides GMHC, Goreski has also been a longtime supporter of The Trevor Project and says he feels it is important for him to use his celebrity as a platform. “I feel a little bit of a responsibility because I am out and in a relationship,” He explains. “I’m very honest about my coming out process and my relationship with my family,” the latter’s strained status being a core plotline of his TV show.
Whether Goreski can turn his personal brand into a successful styling business remains to be seen, especially when the tents are filled with Brad look-alikes. “I don’t feel like I’ll ever be able to shake bow ties and glasses,” he admits. “People actually get disappointed when they see me in the street and they’re like, ‘Oh my god! You’re not wearing a bow tie!’ I’m like, ‘Well you know, I’m kind of going to the doctor.’” But even should his styling not garner Rachel Zoe-sized accolades, Goreski will have left his mark, both as a “style icon” and as an example that reality stars can be good people. “I hope I’m remembered for being a nice guy, too. [And] fashion wise, I’m sure it will be bow ties.”
It’s a Brad, Brad World premieres January 2 on Bravo. Born to be Brad: Life and Style Lessons from the Front Lines of Fashion (It Books) hits shelves February 14. Visit BravoTV.com and Twitter.com/MrBradGoreski for more info.