Brandon Maxwell Knows Women and What They Want to Wear
“I love seeing what women post on their Instagram, how they style it, and how they always seem like they have somewhere to go,” Brandon Maxwell says. “That truly, truly gives me joy.” The designer isn’t exaggerating–his life, almost since childhood, has been dedicated to making women feel beautiful. According to the Brandon Maxwell brand story—basically the designer’s biography—as a boy, Maxwell spent a lot of time at a women’s boutique in Texas where his grandmother worked. There, he got his first taste of styling, which became his career before he launched his eponymous label in 2015.
Being around women—his grandma, his mom, his high school friends before he was styling supermodels and Lady Gaga—has given the fashion designer an uncanny connection with his female clientele and colleagues. “I feel so blessed to work with a team of incredible women who, over that time, grow, evolve and adapt together,” Maxwell says about the group effort behind his successful clothing line. “Seeing our community come together has been an extremely enriching experience that I could have never even imagined when I started the brand.”
Maxwell was recently at our Green Hills store in Nashville, where he took a moment to talk to us about how he makes women feel so great, his mom and his spring collection—which, for the first time, includes denim.
What was your reference point for the Spring ’18 collection? The colors are so beautiful. You also employed a lot of interesting tailoring techniques and embellishments.
The Spring ’18 collection was certainly an evolution for me as a designer and the brand. It was our fifth season and at this point I had a deep understanding as to what makes our customer feel the most beautiful. The brand started with monochromatic evening ensembles, and this collection expanded the wardrobe with the introduction of daywear, denim and accessories, while keeping tailoring at its core. Beyond a great fit, I explored specific tailoring techniques such as pintucking, which sort of looks like these micro-pleats and is all sewn by hand. It is a meticulous process that you don’t often see anymore, but I fell in love with the unique look and the approach.
Why did you want to highlight the relationship between a mother and son (in this case Jourdan Dunn and her son, Riley) for your spring campaign?
Following a week spent alongside Jourdan and Riley in Italy, Jessy (my partner and co-director of the campaign) and I felt compelled to tell their story. During a heartfelt discussion over dinner, Jourdan explained that becoming a mother at 19 as her career was taking off ultimately led to a greater purpose in her life and work. The bond between a mother and a son is one that I know well. I’ve often cited my close relationship with my own mother, the special adventures we had together, and the nights I spent watching her get dressed for formal events as sparking moments in my young imagination. In many ways, this is just as much the story of Jourdan and Riley as it is me and my own mother. Naturally every boy thinks his mother is the most beautiful woman in the world, and Riley is certainly no different.
You introduced some animal embellishments that represent characteristics you admire. Can you tell us about them?
Yes! We had animal embellishments present throughout the collection. Anyone who knows me knows I am obsessed with leopard print. We had leopard jacquard fabrics on a number of pieces. We also had these limited-edition statement earrings we made in collaboration with Lunch at The Ritz by Zander Elliot. The earrings were all different animals which represented attributes that I admire in women: an owl for wisdom, a zebra for individuality and a panther for courage.
Why did you decide to introduce denim this season?
What I have realized in the past few seasons is that women aren’t always going to a black-tie event. Although that would be fabulous, it’s not always practical. Most of the time they still want to look put together in an incredible pair of denim with a beautiful jacket or top. Seeing our women’s response to this new offering of relaxed glamour was inspiring and encouraged me to build upon this concept in the recent Fall/Winter ’18 collection.
Tell us about Jules Buck Jones, the artist whose illustrations appear embroidered in this collection.
Jules Buck Jones is a Texas-based artist who I have been a fan of for a long time—I have a few of his paintings in my home. The giant ball skirt that closed the show had a giant embroidery of a Jules Buck Jones drawing on half of it. To me, the ball skirt is a big nod to the South and Jones’ drawing added an edge of modernity.
You are known for nostalgia in your collections. For instance, the pineapple motif and jewelry in Fall ’18. Can you tell us a little bit about that and its significance to you?
The pineapple was featured frequently in the recent collection. It was embroidered into a number of fabrics on various garments. We had a pineapple and bandana jacquard satin fabric in poppy and black, and my favorite pineapple Swarovski crystal lighter case. The pineapple was the hallmark of my mother’s stationery. On every note, there was always a pineapple on the top. She would use her stationery to write heartfelt notes or express her gratitude, and I always associated that symbol with a sense of grace because of her.
What can’t you leave home without?
Honestly, I wish I had a better answer for this, but I can never leave my home without my phone. I’m constantly in touch with my family, friends and team about the collection, their lives, et cetera. Maintaining my relationships is super important to me. And I can tell you I always leave home without my keys. My poor partner— the grief it has caused! If they could just make keys inside my phone I would be set!