What Brandon Maxwell does well, he does very well. His heart—and it’s a big heart—is 100% invested in what he does, and he celebrates not only the beauty of the women he dresses, but also the camaraderie. He eats pizza with his models before his shows. He spends as much time with his mother and his sisters as he can. And, through that, he listens.
Spring was his best collection to date. Maxwell’s label is still young, and in the year and a half or so since he’s been in stores, his codes have been somewhat predictable—formal, evening, luxe-but-clean glam, the works. Spring shifted that. There was far more color, significantly more day or cocktail wear—the perfect crisp white button-down, fabulous with a capital F animal costume earrings made in collaboration with a jewelry line called Lunch at the Ritz by Zander Elliot, and even denim, which Maxwell originally swore to George Cortina, his stylist, that he’d never do (you can take the boy out of Texas…). But perhaps most importantly, there was a buoyancy that enlivened the low-lit chambers of New York’s famed Doubles Club beneath the Sherry-Netherland. The point: Maxwell is the happiest he’s ever been, he said backstage after the show. “In the past six months, I’ve enjoyed my life for the first time as an adult,” he added.
An emotional rollercoaster brought him to that place; after last season, his grandmother passed away unexpectedly, but two weeks later, he got engaged. The down-and-up of that dual experience catalyzed a kind of come-to-peace moment. “Maybe I am never going to be that ‘big thing,’ but I can be that big thing to myself,” Maxwell said.
And creatively, clear-headedly, he blossomed—formality remained to a degree, but variance emerged. Gigi Hadid opened the show in a belted pink blazer and cigarette jeans (cigarette and bootleg shapes are Maxwell’s best-selling trousers—it made sense to do them in denim)—it was Dallas-chic in the best way. The show progressed with a primary color-centric palette, mixed with pale pinks and signature noirs and whites, along pin-tucked and flirty dresses, or pleated gowns—sportive on top and flowing in the skirt. Maxwell offered embroidered suits, low-cut dresses, flared-sleeve jumpers, vaporous angora sweaters, and more. Basically, something for every woman, or at least every woman who likes to dress up, get her hair done and wear her lipstick bright (another source of inspiration—this was the image upon which Maxwell “was raised.”) “I wanted to give something that our customer could wear to work, or to her friend’s house on the weekend,” he said.
At show’s end, a platinum haired Karlie Kloss exited in a ball-skirt with an equine-motif brocade. I Instagrammed it, and within a few minutes, a friend messaged back saying “I want to re-do my wedding, and I want to wear what Karlie’s wearing.” Insta-validation, from the public itself, in near real time.
Optimism and improved mental health served Maxwell to great effect tonight, and the evening had an added bonus: to help contribute to Hurricane Harvey’s repair funds in his home state, the designer auctioned off two tickets for guests to attend his show, with 100% of the proceeds going to the Houston Food Bank. The warmth of that gesture, plus the strong lineup, amplified Spring into something fuller. “The most honest thing to say,” Maxwell said, “is that my life has become more colorful. I will go home tonight and I am going to be very happy.” Well-deserved, sir.
To view on Vogue Runway, click here.