Riding high on a freshman year of incredible achievements — impressive retail accounts, editorial accolades, an ad campaign, a CFDA Award and searing red carpet moments (Lady Gaga, Oscars) — Brandon Maxwell didn’t squander an iota of momentum for spring. He turned it up and turned it on like a new-gen Tom Ford, filling no less an opulent New York establishment than the Russian Tea Room with major fashion players, including Steven Klein (and his baby), Gaga, Naomi Campbell, Inez van Lamsweerde, Vinoodh Matadin and so on.
The collection popped like a bottle of Grande Cuvée into a room that already had a party atmosphere as one new-school bombshell or badass — Imaan Hammam, Taylor Hill, Adwoa Aboah — shimmied by in attire for the unquestionably glamorous: a swinging Champagne-colored jacket and crepe trousers with a satin tank to start, followed by a pretty, pert mock-neck shift with tiered fluted sleeves and a ruffled hem. Maxwell’s realm is cocktail/evening, although there were a few things that could skew day, such as a green shift with piped shoulders. The meat of the story was clothes that make an entrance. No one will look away from the girl in the bosomy cropped camisole and ball skirt slit to high heaven.
In such a grand, old world of a setting it was impossible not to project a heady, throwback swagger onto the collection. That’s part of what made it so fun. But Maxwell’s magic is his handling of his nostalgic, party-of-a-lifetime fantasy wardrobe of swinging bell-bottom pants, bustled tops and dresses with capes and trains, with chic, spare cuts and controlled colors — white, black and, here, getting wild with a muted green. His flash doesn’t blind you.