Born in County Durham, north east England on July 14, 1950, he was the child of unwed parents.His mother was white and half Irish, but brought up in England, while his father was from the West Indies. He never met either of them.
His childhood with his foster mother seamstress Violet Masters was short on money. “A bit like Angela’s Ashes except ten years on in County Durham,” was how he described it. What Violet did give him was love, discipline and an education in sewing; at eight years old he was creating clothes for his foster sister’s dolls.
Finding him a bit of a handful she sent him to West Mount, in Ripon, North Yorkshire, to a Barnardo’s home for his teenage years. If Bruce was a tearaway he was a very stylish one in “purple pinstriped trousers and a flowered shirt”.
“I was a dedicated follower of fashion even then,” he remembers.
Having graduated from Central Saint Martin’s College of Art, he was invited to design collections for Henri Bendel department store in New York.
Returning to London, his real ticket to the A-list was screen siren Charlotte Rampling. She asked him to design the costumes for her film 1974 Le Taxi Mauve.
“I was getting a lot of editorial, as in lots of pages in Vogue, but it’s far more important to get your dresses on the back of a famous person. Charlotte Rampling in Bruce Oldfield. That sells.”
It sold so well that by the following year he was able to establish his eponymous fashion line.