Clyde Ray Brual, a stylist whose 33-year career involved helping new talent get started, died Sunday at 56.
Brual was at his brother Peter’s house in Atlanta, according to his sister Deenan Brual King.
When not navigating Manhattan streets on his Seventies Schwinn, Brual was known for his fast-walking, fast-talking ways. Photographer Gary Breckheimer said of their first encounter, “I was walking out of a studio at Industria and Clyde had been working with Steven Meisel in another. Here comes this little guy with garment bags in both arms. He was scurrying around with black framed glasses and just when he is about to run into me, he looks up and says, ‘What are you shooting, baby?’” Breckheimer said.
Breckheimer, who has since switched tracks from fashion to fine art, later hired Breckheimer for years. “He always got the best clothes. I don’t know where he got them from or how he got them, but he did. Clyde not only brought great clothes to a shoot, but he always had great energy, personality and drive. And he called everyone ‘baby.’ As you might imagine, sooner or later that got very confusing on a shoot.”
Born in Greenwich, Conn., Brual and his family later relocated to Gainesville, Fla., where his physician father was a teaching professor and practicing physician at the University of Florida, Gainesville. Clyde graduated from there with a double major in architecture and geology. After moving to New York City, he joined Macy’s executive training program and later worked at Willi Smith’s Willi Wear. From there, he moved on to Industria SuperStudio, focusing on special events and celebrity shoots as a production coordinator. Brual also held the post of Cosmopolitan magazine’s sittings editor at one point, according to his friend James Purcell, who met Brual in 1991.
The designer said, “He lent me 15 pairs of shoes and he didn’t charge me. That was the thing about Clyde — he was always willing to help anybody. Whether it was a struggling stylist or aspiring photographer, he would get them clothes, makeup artists or hair stylists. He would always get other people to volunteer their time.”
As a stylist he worked on projects for Avon, Clairol, Coach and Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as British Vogue, Cosmo Girl and Spur magazine in Japan with Gideon Lewin being a favorite collaborator. Brual continued working until he was diagnosed with cancer nearly two years ago. “He always said that it didn’t matter how you felt, but how you looked,” King said. “He thought when times are really hard, what you wear has to be for that moment and you have to live in the moment. That’s how he lived even before he got sick.”
His sister added, “And he always believed in shopping as therapy so I’m going to have a huge AmEx bill in order to get through this. Clyde always said, ‘Girl, we don’t see shrinks — we go shopping.’”
In addition to his sister and brother, Brual is survived by his mother Pearl and his partner Jack Ribas. The family plans to hold a memorial service early next year at a yet-to-be-determined location.