New York designers learned several lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic, not only how to sustain a luxury-focused fashion business amid a global lockdown, but also the importance of making choices rooted entirely in personal fulfillment versus a concern great for the bottom. . And if a satisfied designer equals a successful commercial collection, perhaps this is no coincidence.
So Brandon Maxwell and Carolina Herrera creative director Wes Gordon approached the Spring/Summer 2023 collections that debuted this week. Gordon’s presentation at The Plaza exuded unabashed joy in each of its elements, from its iconic New York location to the spotlight on bright floral prints – a theme inspired by Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel of the year 1911 The Secret Garden — and especially the show’s soundtrack, a medley of Barbra Streisand’s most prolific Broadway and cinema hits.
“I didn’t want hipster EDM music, I wanted fun music that girls would like,” Gordon said. The Hollywood Reporter after the show. Indeed, it was impossible not to notice that even Karlie Kloss, one of the champion catwalkers, seemed to find another gear in her step as Streisand’s voice began to belt out the title track from Hello, Dolly!
“Literally from the lowest beat, from the first note, I knew this was going to be one of the most joyous, emotional and empowering collections we’ve ever seen from Wes,” said the Broadway producer, Jordan Roth, whose company owns and operates August. Wilson Theatre, where Lea Michele is currently living her dream eight times a week as Fanny Brice in the Funny girlthe role that made Streisand famous in 1964.
“Don’t Rain on My Parade” indeed felt more than a little sublime as Gordon’s collection appeared on the runway, where celebrities including Guardians of the Galaxy actress Karen Gillan, singer Ellie Goulding, Martha Stewart and Sabrina Carpenter were in the front row. Gordon was inspired by Burnett’s novel not only because it was his mother’s favorite book and she read it to him as a child, but it also allowed him to fully embrace his love of color and flowers. “The secret ingredient in the collection came from the injections of black you’ve seen all along, a note between softness and romance,” he explains. “I wasn’t worried about following trends – instead I’m doubling down on who I am and who the house is and just making pieces that are unapologetic about beauty.”
Five floral prints formed the heart of the collection: “the seeds of my garden,” Gordon calls them. These cheery bouquets in bright pinks, yellows and pale blues were mixed with splashes of black in silhouettes that felt distinctly Upper East Side. The silhouettes ranged from crisp white shirts and black floral belted woven pants to bustier top combinations with A-line skirts that reached almost to the ankles and beautiful combinations of a full-sleeve striped blouse paired with a yellow flowered bangs skirt with a pocket. “I took the derivations of the five prints and blew some of them up on a chiffon, scaled some down, or took a detail from another,” explains Gordon. “Many of them read like completely different things, even though they are the same anemone flower.”
Gordon also had fun with lush floral corsages draped over the shoulder on several dresses, including a stunning gown in red silk crepe. If the dress looked familiar, that’s because Kate Hudson wore the design two days before its runway premiere when she appeared on the red carpet at the Toronto International Film Festival. “There’s always been a sense that the discovery of a collection should be a big secret, but I don’t think that’s our world anymore,” says Gordon. “If something is beautiful, then share it. I’m honored and happy that she wore it the day before our show.”
Happiness is also synonymous with serenity, and Brandon Maxwell was only too willing to channel that sensibility with his latest collection. The designer who famously started out as a stylist for Lady Gaga and other high-powered stars was looking for a quieter life, he says — and why not? Lately his schedule has been packed with projects, from a stint as a guest designer for FILA, a line of tennis apparel that hit stores in August that feels equal parts classic and modern, to his work as creative director of Walmart fashion brands. , which debuted in February. “Next week we also start shooting the TV show,” adds Maxwell, referring to Season 20 of Bravo’s Project trackin which he stars alongside Kloss, fellow designer Christian Siriano and Ellen editor-in-chief Nina Garcia.
“It’s such a joy to be able to go to work and be a part of someone’s journey,” Maxwell says of the reality competition show. “I know it’s a TV show, but the filming and the process is very real and very human. And honestly, I don’t feel too far from where [the contestants] they are, so it’s a wonderful pleasure to participate in what they’re experiencing.”
So it’s understandable why Maxwell might want to leave Manhattan in order to enjoy a more bucolic existence during his off hours. The designer soon discovered that the early morning hours, filled with birdsong and the hues of the sunrise, were not only relaxing, but also very inspiring. “Those hours between 5 and 7 in the morning have been the most restorative thing in my life for the past two months,” he said. THR behind the scenes after his show.
Lavender, which Maxwell calls “a very calm color that also lacks a sense of urgency,” became a central theme, also used to light his presentation space, a series of galleries at Christie’s auction house in Midtown. From the start, sunrise tones mixed with neutrals created a pale mix in pieces like low-rise pants in wheat with an apricot tank splashed with sheer threads, as well as asymmetrical skirts that dip to a thigh and pants with wide legs paired with a strapless Top embellished with black threads and gold daisies.
Ultimately it was a wonderful combination of polish and lightness. “You never want to lose the DNA and essence of the brand, which is a very polished look,” says Maxwell. “But you also want to fill it with where you are right now, which for me is a little more peaceful place, I think.”
Maxwell’s flowers also exuded that lightness, never feeling precious or forced; rather, one print evoked thoughts of the light-sensitive paper children use to make nature prints in elementary school—which is not to say they looked childish. Instead they felt elegant and natural in their simplicity. “Where I’m living now has brought back a lot of memories of where I grew up,” explains Maxwell, referring to his Texas roots. “I think a lot of peace and quiet has caused thoughts that when life moved a little slower, the future seemed unknown and I dreamed of working in fashion. With that in mind, I wanted a few things to feel a little less obvious:
A flowing strapless dress in that floral print was among the collection’s hits, as was a silver sequined mermaid skirt embellished with floral motifs in pink, lavender and moss green – just in case Maxwell fans on the carpet red were worried that he would not have those pieces are ready. “Because I’ve been a designer for so many years, I think that’s always going to be in my head, even if it’s not something I’m consciously planning,” he notes. “Right now I’m really focused on saying what I want to say through the collection; if it turns out to involve a long dress, great, but if not, that’s okay too. The last few years have been difficult, but now I feel really grateful.”