Not all designers host trunk shows, but for some, they're an important way to get to know your customer, gain feedback and figure out what's selling. This is true for Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig, co-founders of Marchesa, who have been doing trunk shows since the inception of their line of beautiful eveningwear in 2004.
For someone like me, entering a store like Bergdorf Goodman on a Thursday afternoon feels like walking into an unfamiliar world. "Oh, so people do just walk into Bergdorf's in the middle of the day and buy $2,000 Chanel bags," I thought to myself as I made my way to the fourth floor evening salon, where Craig and Chapman brought their fall 2015 noir-inspired collection in the hopes of collecting some pre-orders. "It’s quite a magical thing when you design a dress in a studio and you actually see a woman trying it on — you can feel the transformation and [the customer] really falls in love with something," said Chapman. "As a designer, that’s what it’s really all about."
Chapman and Craig say they don't think about a particular type of woman when they design — "we just think about our inspiration" — so the trunk shows offer an opportunity to find out who is actually buying their extravagant dresses, something I'm certainly curious about as well. The designers say they're most surprised by the range in age of their customers: At an event in Miami, Chapman says, "We had a girl [buying a dress] for prom, I think she was 15, 16, and an 86-year-old great grandmother. She bought a dress that Halle Berry had worn to the Oscars, so she was really amazing."
To be either of those ladies, I think, is the dream.
Of course, trunk shows aren't the designers' only focus right now. There's the upcoming Met Gala, for which they have "invited some people" to dress, but won't reveal whom.
Sooner than that, they have a bridal show during New York's bridal week at the St. Regis Hotel, where they have recently signed on as ambassadors. The collection will be "very romantic," and as for the St. Regis partnership, they plan to host more events, dinners and, eventually, design. They're also expanding their relatively new fine jewelry line beyond wedding jewelry, into more fashion pieces.
"We’ve always wanted Marchesa to be a lifestyle brand," explains Chapman, when asked if she plans to expand the label beyond fashion and accessories. "There are limitless ideas out there, so it’s always finding the right thing to do and not taking on too much."
Something they're allegedly not focused on: Charles James. Chapman's husband Harvey Weinstein bought the rights to the defunct American fashion house last year, and reportedly signed on Chapman as a creative consultant. Though, apparently, Chapman hasn't done much consulting yet. "I’m not actually," she responded when asked whether she's been involved with the relaunch. "My husband has bought the brand, but I don’t think that anything has been confirmed as to what they’re doing with it. You’d have to talk to him about it; I really don’t know what his plans are."
We guess those plans — and Zac Posen's rumored involvement in them — will remain a mystery a bit longer.