Just a year ago, the end seemed certain for Christopher Burch's preppy, mid-market retailer C. Wonder, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy a few weeks into 2015. But in July, Xcel Brands Inc. (the parent company of Judith Ripka, Isaac Mizrahi and more) acquired C. Wonder for $12.5 million and the following month it appointed celebrity stylist Brad Goreski as its creative director and "on-air personality" on QVC. Since then, C. Wonder has been busy prepping for the launch of its spring 2016 line, to be sold exclusively on QVC, beginning March 3. Though, a rep for the brand tells us there are plans for "a C. Wonder separate label" that will be available at "better department stores" in the future.
"Every season, we start [the C. Wonder customer] in a different destination," Goreski told us during Thursday evening's press preview. "So for spring, [it] was Morocco, and you see a lot of those influences in the prints and the patterns and the color palette." Overall, though, the collection consists primarily of the preppy, cheery basics the brand has become known for, such as ballet flats with hardware and bangles with hinge clasps. Prices range from $29 for knit tops to $248 for leather handbags.
Read on for our interview with Goreski on C. Wonder's DNA, preparing for live television and why he's skipping fashion week.
When it came to designing the collection, what was important for both you and [Xcel Brands CEO] Robert D'Loren?
What was really important was to stay close to the DNA of the C. Wonder brand. You'll see a lot of those signature pieces in the collection — the totes with the racer stripes, initial bangles, the "Bee Happy" slippers. But with the apparel, we really wanted to focus on the Upper East Side vibe, which to us means luxurious fabrics, beautiful tailoring [and] really elegant detail. And then combine it with a downtown vibe. So it's very polished, but it also has a loose feel.
How involved were you in the actual design process?
I've been involved in the design process all along the way and we had to get the collection together relatively quickly. Robert D'Loren has been wonderful, and Katrina, who I've been designing with, is incredible.
You've been on "Rachel Zoe Project" and "It's a Brad, Brad World," but how have you been prepping for QVC? And how are you balancing everything with your "Fashion Police" duties?
This past weekend, I hosted live from the red carpet for the first time with Giuliana [Rancic] and I think that's the best preparation because QVC is live. And you go for an hour selling different items. And I love being on TV, I love being able to talk about fashion and it's something I've been passionate about since I was a kid. So to have tangible clothes for people to wear, [that]'s going to be so exciting for me to see.
Will we see C. Wonder on your celebrity clients?
You never know. They're already excited about it. And they've already kind of put in little orders.
What are your plans for fashion week?
I have to go back to LA to film "Fashion Police" and get ready for the Oscars. [I] will be in my pajamas, online with my dog on my lap, my coffee close to me, clicking through images and calling designers and getting clothes.
Browse the full collection in the gallery below.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Homepage photo: Courtesy of QVC