Prior to launching his eponymous womenswear brand at New York Fashion Week this past September, Brandon Maxwell established a successful career as a fashion stylist. Having been cited by The Hollywood Reporter as one of the top 25 most powerful stylists of 2015, Maxwell has worked across the fields of music, celebrity, and fashion. Growing up in Longview, Texas, Maxwell was constantly surrounded by powerful, immaculately dressed women.
His point of view was formed and nurtured in his grandmother’s boutique, and he eventually began customizing outfits for early experiments staged while still at school. Going on to study photography at St. Edward’s University in Austin, he then moved to New York and began assisting stylist Deborah Afshani, followed by Edward Enninful, and Nicola Formichetti. After setting out on his own, Maxwell became the fashion director for Lady Gaga and began contributing to magazines such as ELLE, Harpers Bazaar, Teen Vogue and V, where his combination of timeless glamour and sporty style, paved the way for his much-lauded fashion line in 2015. Maxwell now balances his time between the atelier and his styling studio, both located in New York City. In his work as a designer, Brandon aims to offer women an American luxury brand focused on well-crafted technique and made in New York.
“Designer to Watch” declared WWD… how does it feel?
It’s a dream come true. Growing up, in my styling career, and now as a designer, all I’ve ever wanted is to make women feel beautiful, so to have any attention brought to the collection that will allow me to do that is an incredible feeling and an honor.
I loved every piece in your first collection! what was the inspiration behind it?
Thank you! I don’t draw inspiration from any one specific thing. I would say my designs are more emotion based, as I drape the collection rather than sketch, I make each piece based on how I’m feeling each day. If I’m really happy I may make something more fun and revealing and if I’m feeling dark that particular day I may make something more dramatic and covered up. What I did know that I wanted, and what I hope to continue to do, is to create pieces that fit impeccably, that make a woman feel her best, that she can wear time and time again, and that don’t break her bank account completely.
Where do you find inspiration?
Most of my inspiration comes from my time growing up in Texas, the surroundings there, the women that surrounded me there. I must be in nature, with music, to be inspired.
Which is your fave piece in the collection?
I’m particularly fond of the tri-layer jacket because it was the first piece I made for the collection. It was a difficult draping process, and I’m really pleased with the way it turned out. I focus more on shape and construction rather than fabrics or patterns, and the tri-layer jacket is really the defining piece of the collection, for me.
You’ve been known for years as Lady Gaga’s stylist…. Tell me about the transition … the plus and cons of it?
I’ve worked with Gaga for years but she is also my best friend so it really felt like more of an extension than a transition. I learned everything I know from my years as a stylist, and I still very much enjoy styling. Designing is just a different side of what I do, it’s feels really natural. I try to look at everything as a pro, I’m incredibly fortunate to have had the career i’ve already had and to be able to do what I am doing now.
Bravo for making the entire collection in New York… what were the challenges?
Thank you! I always knew I wanted to make everything in New York. I wanted to be able to oversee the process and the quality, and making the collection here allowed me to do that. There haven’t really been any challenges per se. I was really conscious of the price point, and not having everything be so incredibly expensive, but it is more expensive to produce the collection in NY as opposed to overseas, so I guess that could be seen as a challenge if I had to pick one. But I am also very pro New York, and I’d like to do more to support production.
Where is the collection available?
We will be in stores in February, in NY we will be sold in Bergdorf, Fivestory, The Line and Jeffrey. Nationally we are available in Saks Fifth Avenue as well as other boutiques.
Holiday dressing… I gravitate towards simplicity with great tailoring….What should a woman splurge and save on this holiday season?
I think a great blazer is always a good investment. We were heavy on blazers in the collection because I feel that it’s a statement piece that can be worn with existing pieces in your wardrobe and it just takes it to the next level.
Fave holiday cocktail?
I exclusively drink red wine so I can’t say much about cocktails!
Fave holiday destination?
Texas, with my siblings.
Fave holiday music?
Mariah Carey holiday album, of course!
What are you coveting this holiday season?
More than any gift, I’m just looking forward to taking some time off and being in Texas with my family and seeing my new nephew.
What is your fave charity?
I support the Born This Way Foundation, which was started by my best friend and her mother, and supports and empowers the wellness of young people.