Two days after Brandon Maxwell showed his fall 2016 collection, he’s seated on a plush gold chair on the fourth floor of Bergdorf Goodman surrounded by the same clothes that came down the runway inside The Monkey Bar 48 hours earlier. “It’s very surreal to have just showed two days ago and then see the collection hanging in Bergdorf’s,” said Maxwell, who could be mistaken for a teenager if it weren’t for his salt-and-pepper hair.
Maxwell, Lady Gaga’s stylist-turned-designer, made his runway debut in September with a spring collection of black, white and blush-colored tailored dresses and separates. Bergdorf’s scooped it up immediately. Those pieces were also hanging close by on Thursday and are for sale now. The fall clothes — mostly black, updated eveningwear — were available for pre-order as part of the department store’s “Right from the Runway” series of trunk shows. (Altuzarra, Cushnie et Ochs, Jason Wu, Michael Kors, Monse, Prabal Gurung and Sally LaPointe will also host trunk shows in later installments.)
It’s a sign of the times; the latest example that the fashion calendar is becoming increasingly irrelevant for some designers, pushing the trend of direct-to-consumer fashion. Burberry, Tom Ford and Proenza Schouler all recently revealed initiatives to rebel from the fashion calendar in order to deliver to consumers quicker.
“What’s great for me, and I say this all the time, is I’m not a woman and I make clothes for women. I think it’s important for me to really see real customers coming in and what they’re reacting to from this collection because very soon after this is bought, I have to start the next collection. It’s important to me to start thinking about what they liked this time and what I can do better and what I can give them that they’re reacting to,” Maxwell said, riffing on the advantages of the in-person customer interface offered by a trunk show. “It’s good research for me.”
Not to mention it’s helpful for the business. “I think it gives us an idea of what the customer will like, what they might buy come fall. Obviously this is a business and financials are important,” the designer said. “I pay for the business myself with my family, and we have to sell clothes. It just informs you a little bit more. It’s exciting to get a reaction, not just what people think about the collection but also what they might buy — a financial reaction — to plan for the fall.”