It is some kind of fashion moment when your runway show opens to a sampling of Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like a Woman,” and the crowd cheers and Lady Gaga shimmies visibly in her seat. Brandon Maxwell brought down the house with exactly that scene at his Spring catwalk concocktail tonight at New York’s famed Russian Tea Room (the designer has a track record of staging his intimate programs at upscale, old-school Manhattan fixtures).
Somehow, that moment felt very now—perhaps due to a relatively sleepy season so far, where the street still reverberates, where slouchy cut-out shoulders rule, where deliveries are jumbled and no new rhythm has quite been struck with the rise of see-now-buy-now schemes. No wonder the audience rejoiced when Maxwell took his bow; finally, they’d been hit with a shot of pure fun, this one in a voluminous ’80s groove with a monochrome ’90s shellac and a twenty-teens Insta-glam sensibility.
The clothes were energizing. Maxwell admitted to wanting “to make a bit more of a wearable collection,” and that this one in particular was inspired by “learning a lot of different types of love this year.” That goal was accomplished, that love shown (Naomi Campbell, in addition to Gaga, rose for a standing ovation). Where in the past Maxwell’s gowns and separates have been relatively covered-up and statement-making, tonight he offered more sexiness, more sharp silhouettes, and more general variation than before (though keep in mind that the before, here, is just one year—Maxwell started his business for Spring 2016). He noted the introduction of an olive colorway, and a new “petal pink,” which is “becoming a signature.”
Whether in a crisp white tailored blazer, a noir bow-front silk top, or an olive deep-V dress with piped cross-body wraps at the abdomen, what was most convincing was seeing how the (extremely well-cast) models handled the looks. No doubt they were instructed to dance-and-move if they were feeling it, but one seemed to genuinely burst out into a smile halfway down the runway. And that’s kind of it, isn’t it? Maxwell isn’t moving any conceptual needles, but he is fulfilling a need; one for a reachable, or at least dream-able, turn in the spotlight.