When Brandon Maxwell launched his brand in September 2015, he was primarily billed as “Lady Gaga’s stylist,” who was trying his hand at design. Three years later, Maxwell is well out of Gaga’s shadow, known for his distinctive vision of American luxury, shaped partly by his Texas roots and partly by the sophisticated eye he developed over his styling career, as well as his own big personality. The positive reaction to his designs was immediate. In 2016, Maxwell was named a finalist for the LVMH Prize, and also picked up the CFDA Swarovski Award for Womenswear. Last year, he signed with IMG Models to represent him worldwide, across all opportunities both inside and outside the fashion space. For the past few months, Maxwell’s been filming season 17 of “Project Runway,” for which he was cast as a judge alongside Karlie Kloss, Christian Siriano, Nina Garcia and Elaine Welteroth.
All the accolades and exposure are great, but Maxwell said one of his proudest moments was his spring 2019 show, a Texas tailgate theme, which was the first time he secured sponsorship — Yeti, Kia, Lucchese cowboy boots, to name a few — using it all for charitable purposes in his home state.
“It’s been three years happening very fast,” Maxwell said. “It’s exciting, but in a way, it can also leave you feeling empty.…For the last show, it was about having a little more of a name than I had before so that I could work with desirable sponsors. And it was about taking that money and paying it forward to other young people who just needed the opportunity.” That said, Maxwell is doing solid business, reporting steady 40 percent growth season-over-season. “Project Runway” will inevitably heighten his exposure. “I’m not here for my health. I don’t want to be a niche business,” he said. “My goal is to reach people around the world, whether that’s through the clothes that I make, or the campaign stories that we tell, or the visuals that we create, or the runway shows. I love making clothes, I love making accessories, but I’m a storyteller, I really think. I think that’s what I love to do through so many different mediums, and ‘Project Runway’ is another medium.”