15 Apr 2019

Q & A – Bradon McDonald

Bradon McDonald – Costume Designer

Bradon McDonald is modern dancer turned American fashion designer who attended the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, and appeared as a finalist in Season 12 of “Project Runway.” He turned his design chops on Utah Opera’s “Norma,” bringing a fashion-forward approach to the semi-staged production.


What influenced you as a young designer and inspired you to channel your creativity into fabrics and clothes?

I was a professional dancer in my first life, inspired by fine arts and fine textiles. As a kid I studied painting, drawing, and sculpture while simultaneously studying tap dance, jazz, and clogging. This all came together when I found Modern Dance and after receiving my degree from Juilliard I toured the world for 14 years, mostly with Mark Morris Dance Group. After retiring from the stage, my focus went back to the fine arts, and design. I attended the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising Los Angeles.

Who are your style icons?

Madame Gres, Isaac Mizrahi, Karl Lagerfeld, Iris Van Herpen

How did you approach the creative process for ‘Norma’?

My idea is to treat this production as if they were attending the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Gala which would be honoring the historic productions of “Norma.” Basically, an over-the-top fashion version of the classic story.

How different is it designing clothes for the runway than for the stage? What considerations do you need to take in approach?

Scale. Runway is still a show, different than clothes on the rack. How big? How much bling? How much sculpture? Does she have to sit down? Clothes are never just clothes. I have to consider what the person wearing them needs. Do they need attention, or to blend in? To be intimidating or welcoming? Stage costumes can be more extreme which is refreshing to work on after more subdued projects.

Describe how clothes make the character.

It’s how you feel when you look at them onstage, or on the street.  The visual tells the story before they can open their mouth, to speak or to sing.