When Brandon Maxwell put his arm around his mother Pam, and brought her down the runway to take a bow with him Saturday night, it was a genuine moment. The designer has spent the last few months going back and forth between New York to Longview, Texas, to be with her during her breast cancer treatments. And the reality check of putting health and family first shaped his fall 2019 collection, a back-to-basics cleanse after spring’s Texas-size, big-hair beauty pageant.
The result was intimate, effective and focused, with just 200 guests gathered in a white-and-gold hallway constructed for the show that exuded a certain elegant calm.
The palette was always-right black-and-white, punctuated with pink, red, apple green and powder blue. “If she doesn’t need it, she doesn’t have it,” is how he explained his streamlined vision in the grand American tradition, which manifested itself in something one might call ath-luxe, meaning the collection had a sport through line with racer-back silhouettes, anorak influences, zipper detailing and caped shoulders calling to mind superheroines worked into Maxwell’s signature tailoring.
Part of the mission was to add more day-to-night dressing, he said during a preview, making sure to keep it comfortable but also polished. Case in point: a dual-satin little black dress had the ease of a T-shirt; it came short-sleeve with welt pockets and gathered neckline, cinched with Maxwell’s new combination-lock belt for down-to-business glam.
A caped black blazer, paired with pants cropped and flared would be perfect for AOC or any of the new female Congressional class, while a scarf-tied peplum top with matching pencil skirt in the designer’s new “B” leopard print had Hollywood starlet written all over it, as did a caped-shouldered, lipstick-red suit similar to the one Nicky Hilton Rothschild was wearing front row with a particularly fetching cat-shaped cuff from JAR.
Maxwell remixed tuxedo dressing, which has been one of his mainstays, showing white trousers with a cropped puffer jacket instead of a blazer (perfect for Texans in Aspen), and then black trousers with a white silk blazer and button-down shirt with a fraying point collar for that extra-special detail.
He didn’t skimp on high-impact event looks, namely the finale parachute gown with billowing skirt, blouson top and waist cutout crisscrossed with dainty ties. It was probably no coincidence that it was the same power pink as the one worn Saturday night by his mama.