One of the hottest designers to emerge from New York Fashion Week in years, 2018 CFDA Swarovski Award winner for Womenswear, longtime friend, stylist to Lady Gaga, Brandon Maxwell made an appearance at Neiman Marcus, San Francisco. The stylist-turned-designer made waves at the Oscars with a white gown/jumpsuit made for longtime client Lady Gaga, and at the Met Gala with a carved white column worn by Karlie Kloss. The powerful women who surround him are his greatest source of inspiration.
Maxwell sat down with us to chat about his childood in hometown of Longview, Texas and his first experience styling his sister with bedsheets and his road to success.
Juliet: What were you like as a child?
Brandon: Creative, inquisitive, and very, very social.
Juliet: Why did you decide to become a designer?
Brandon: I had been thinking about my own collection since I was young. Growing up in Texas, I would create these dresses for my sister from thrift store pieces or sheets in I found in the house. Then we would have a little photoshoot. Finally after working in the industry for years and learning so much of the business from the great people I worked with, I saved up enough money to start this on my own. I also had a lot of encouragement and support from colleagues, friends, and family. I’m not sure there was one defining moment where I decided this is what I wanted to do, it was a feeling that was always there. I always wanted to create pieces that women would feel beautiful wearing.
Juliet: Did you have any business knowledge when going into the line's launch ?
Brandon: Fortunately, I have a businessman for a father who urged me to focus on the business side as much as the creative. He guided me in creating a business plan and continues to offer advice and encouragement on a daily basis. It’s very important to me that this brand is sustainable and continues for a long time.
Juliet: What did you learn along the way?
Brandon: There is so much to this business that I am continuously learning each day. There are aspects to production, materials, design, and of course how to build a successful business. It is a constant learning process.
Juliet: Who/ what was the inspiration behind your latest collection?
Brandon: The collections are driven more by emotions than inspiration. When I go into the studio, I turn on music that fits my mood and then the clothes really take on what I’m feeling at the time. For example, I was very concentrated on the second collection because I felt there was a lot expected of me after the 1st collection and so the pieces for Fall 16 were a bit more structured and rigid. For Spring 17, I was in a comfortable place and feeling great – so there is a lot of fluidity to the collection.
Juliet: Who is your muse?
Brandon: We design a collection that can dress all generations – from the daughter to the grandmother. I think about all of the strong women that have come in and out of my life since I was young and I think about what they would want to wear.
Juliet: How did you manage to switch Lady Gaga from avant-garde style to Old Hollywood glamour?
Brandon: It's a truly collaborative process. We sit down and bounce ideas back and forth and work together to find the look that best represents the moment.
Juliet: Who would you want to see wear your designs?
Brandon: I aim to design for all women.
Juliet: Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
Brandon: I hope I’m still here designing the Brandon Maxwell collection!
Juliet: What are your words of advice for designers starting in fashion?
Brandon: I always advise people to stick to your guns and go for what you want. You won’t be happy if you compromise.
Photo credit Zara Gourji.