The red leather seats at Manhattan’s swanky Monkey Bar made for a cozy winter venue for Brandon Maxwell Fall 2016. The designer admitted to being afraid of large show spaces and unfamiliar faces in the crowd. “I wanted to keep it inmate with the people that have supported us,” Maxwell said. It’s obvious that atmosphere is important to him. Dim lighting and music is key—and whoever feels like lighting up a cigarette should feel inclined to do so. The show began to the beat of Queen’s “Under Pressure,” as Maxwell continue to reiterate how he felt compelled to rise to the occasion. He wanted to perform for everyone who took a chance on him, a humbling sentiment in comparison to so many artists who come across as entitled to share their greatness.
Those watching it all play out on Instagram might have assumed that this event took place in L.A., considering Maxwell was there just yesterday acting as Lady Gaga’s stylist at the Grammy’s. Gaga, with her newly orange Bowie-inspired hair color, proudly sat front and center tonight, but she swapped out her sparkly pantsuit for an all-black, minimal Maxwell look. (Black is the designer’s favorite color.) “I feel that it’s up to the woman to decide what color she wants, but it’s my job as a designer to decide the silhouette. I love a bit of volume. I love a bit of fantasy. When you’re young and you’re gay and you’re sitting in your room thinking about dresses, of course you’re going to think about volume and fantasy. It’s my wildest dream to see these things come down the runway.”
Some of the more voluminous silhouettes did border on fantastical, but it was a good thing that Maxwell harnessed some of that energy in order to focus on his customer. The result was a timeless, year-round wardrobe for a woman who has plenty of places to go and people to see. “I was so happy and thrilled when we were bought by stores. This is a business, and all I thought about was our customer. I really wanted to think about what she would wear for Fall, what was a continuation, and what would make sense. I pin and drape and cut everything by hand. I really just thought about a quality product for the woman for the Fall.” What stood out: the cigarette pants that our Manolo Blahnik’s having been waiting for, the open back dresses, and the thought of being able to pile these neutral separates into a carry-on suitcase without a care.
It’s clear that Maxwell has a specific customer in mind, but what’s also clear is that he seems to have a customer in all 28 models that walked his show. The girls showed their adoration for Maxwell with each step—the kind of turnout you don’t get for being difficult to work with. Famous faces like Imaan Hammam and Chanel-favorite Ondria Hardin walked alongside newer models Bhumika Arora and Romee Strijd. “What’s great about our show is that James Scully does our casting and James Scully should get 100% of the credit. So much greatness has happened for us because of James Scully. We meet each girl. We don’t just look to see if they’re pretty or not. We meet them and know them as a woman. I’m invested in all 28 girls that walked the show.” He’s also invested in a customer who has been waiting for something like this to wear the next time she finds herself dancing to disco music and eating sliders at Monkey Monkey, should any of us be so lucky.END
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