Brandon Maxwell surprised the crowd at his show Saturday night by introducing men’s wear — and nipped at the heels of the reigning king of American sportswear, Ralph Lauren, while he was at it with a collection you might call Texas prep.
After nursing his mother, Pam, back to health; taking home the 2019 CFDA Designer of the Year Award, and wrapping the filming of his second season on “Project Runway,” Maxwell felt like cutting loose. “I wanted to get together and celebrate in the borough where I live with the people I love,” he said of his one-night-only club, Brandon’s in Brooklyn, which had Dolly Parton on the soundtrack, Shake Shack for snacking and “New Fashioned” cocktails for sipping, in contrast to Lauren’s Ralph’s Club in the Financial District just an hour later with Janelle Monáe singing live, crudites and corned beef sandwiches for nibbling and Champagne for sipping.
Maxwell’s cutting-loose sentiment carried over into the clothes, which were some of the most relaxed and assured of any he’s ever shown. He put extra focus on classic tailoring — for men and women — creating covetable blazers in ocher, marigold and flame-red (his color sense was spot-on), worn open over jeans or belted over sophisticated shorts or miniskirts and heels. Denim was not an after-thought, but instead came in a beautiful, luxe-looking medium blue with a slightly flared leg, worn with a white button-down and chunky jeweled belt, or a pink satin bustier and train for a relaxed glam. (One of the guys wore his jeans with a blue blazer, red neckerchief and cowboy boots, natch.)
Maxwell indulged his body-con tendencies with a black jersey halter gown scooped out at the sides, and his love of easy allure with a white shirtdress that fell off the shoulders, exposing the collar bone just so.
“I’m addressing day to night better than I ever have. I thought about the perfect fit of a jean for many months, and the gazar button-ups that I love; I enjoyed the way they draped in the back,” he said, sharing that he also expanded his scope of reference, leaning on the women in his studio more than models for feedback on comfort and wearability. “It’s a little looser, even the gowns are softer, some of them are made of jersey, they are simple and easy,” he said.
As for the impulse behind his foray into men’s? “I rolled over one night and my fiancé said, ‘I’d love a shirt the same color as Bella Hadid’s dress from the last show,'” Maxwell explained. “Through making that, I discovered how much I love tailoring.” And it looked pretty good for a first outing, including what may be the only peach tuxedo (cut long and easy, and worn with a coral cotton turtleneck sweater with a blue shirttail sticking out) a girlfriend could ever learn to love.