When it comes to dressing celebrities, there are a few famouses who have Holy Grail status, the kind who can launch a career into the stratosphere. Lady Gaga makes that short list; think of Nicola Formichetti and Brandon Maxwell, who started out styling the star and now have mega fashion careers of their own. Dressing her would be any designer’s dream — especially one with exactly one season under his belt, like Wesley Berryman. During her recent appearance on “Saturday Night Live,” the singer wore a custom shirt by Berryman for one of her bumpers.
It’s been so crazy, I don’t really know how to take it all in,” Berryman says on the phone, still slightly in shock from his national television debut. “I’m so honored that she would see my work and want to wear it.”
But then, Berryman isn’t a stranger to celebrity dressing; in fact, he started his line because of it. FKA Twigs reached out to the designer, a recent graduate of SCAD, to work on some custom pieces for a show. “She just messaged me on Instagram!” he says. “I had posted a picture of one of my denim jackets with the white lacing, and I noticed that she liked it and then she followed me, so I guess she somehow saw the picture.” Berryman left his full-time design job to put together the pieces in time, and decided he might as well pursue his own fashion line. “I was like, well, I’ve quit my job, I might as well go hard with my brand,” he says. That was in July.
By September, Berryman — who does all the designing, patterning and sewing for his collection — had put together a fashion show, his very first at New York Fashion Week. Monster Cycle, where Berryman worked part-time, loaned him the space to stage the presentation; his friend, stylist Jimi Urquiaga, helped with casting and styling the show, pulling together hair and makeup teams. Urquiaga also helped put together a video of the collection for i-D Mexico. “He was an amazing blessing to my brand,” Berryman says. “That altogether was the debut of Wesley Berryman.”
The show ended up being worth the trouble. Among those who turned up to discover the young talent was Brandon Maxwell’s styling team, and as it turns out, Berryman’s gender-neutral, rock’n’roll collection was perfect for Gaga’s latest denim-cutoff and graphic-tee style era. “They really love my brand, and love my designs, and asked if I could do a custom thing for her,” Berryman explains. “It was based off of some of my graphics that I had in my collection.” Again, the turnaround was fast; he had about two days to put together the pieces to send to Gaga. Of course, delivering custom designs on time still isn’t a guarantee they’ll get worn — so Berryman was completely surprised to see his shirt on “SNL.”
“I was in my friend’s dorm room screaming, because I’ve always looked up to Gaga, ever since high school,” he says. “I just found her to be a very inspiring artist, and she always inspired me to work harder, so for that to happen is just an absolute dream come true.”
So where does Berryman go from here? There’s continuing his custom work, which is clearly gaining traction, and putting together a collection for a show in February, where he’s sure to have a few more eyeballs if things continue the way they have been. But first, it might be time to bring in some extra hands to help keep up with demand.
“I’m the worst at asking for help, honestly — I feel like my art is my cross to bear — but I need to get better,” he admits with a laugh. “I need interns, so I guess that’s next, is looking for interns, stuff I never though I’d actually be doing.”