It’s impossible to know what’s going on in a designer’s life by reading his or her show notes and doing a 60-second interview backstage. But judging from Brandon Maxwell’s program and a brief chat post-show, he’s been going through some kind of personal awakening. “I’ve faced my fears, and I’m ready to let go of what I think people want from me, or what I should be,” was one of the statements in his notes. After the show, he elaborated: “I think when your life changes really quickly and there’s a lot of people around you, the easy thing to do is to listen to everyone and be scared and confused. I just hit a point in my life in the last six months where I was like, ‘I want to do what I want to do. If I want to do a hot pink dress or a suit made out of diamonds, that’s OK.’”
And by God, he did a va-va-voom hot pink asymmetric halter gown that wrapped around the neck in a buckle and slinked down the body with a slit across one hip. There was also a “diamond” (Swarovski crystals) suit — silver, slinky and ultra-sexy with a jacket cut very low to reveal as much cleavage and collarbone as possible.
Maxwell swan-dived into the big kid’s pool a year-and-a-half ago with his debut collection of new age eveningwear for the all-out glamour puss who also liked a modern line and followed up with two tight, polished collections. Apparently, he’s felt a little hemmed in by that chic, but pretty and polite, look.
The fall show was definitely more expressive, as if Maxwell was breaking out. He staged it at sunset on the 71st floor of 4 World Trade with its Master of the Universe views. The clothes were tighter, shorter, sexier, vampy-er and far more colorful than his past collections. Whereas he’s mostly worked in black and white, tip-toeing into pale pink, here he went bold with a bottle green strapless column worn with a matching jumbo fox coat. There was a royal blue/purple gown with a layered collar and a burgundy sweater and pony pencil skirt slit to there. More than one person in the audience mentioned a note or two of Tom Ford’s supersized sex appeal of the Nineties. It’s good for young designers to try new things, takes risks, be curious. It helps them find out what works — and what doesn’t.