Shopping Bag

Brandon Maxwell

On dressing strong women and setting a new fashion industry standard.

"I think fashion has a responsibility, and we really have to consider what message we are sending to the young girls of the next generation, in the women that we choose to work with, the clothes we make, and the imagery that we release."

In an industry that thrives on the glamorous and dramatic, Brandon Maxwell remains humble and wholly committed to creating from the heart. That’s not to say that the Longview, Texas born, New York based designer doesn’t have the beautiful life and career that Instagram dream feeds are made of. He has served as fashion director for his best friend Lady Gaga and launched his eponymous collection for spring/summer 2016 to rounding applause from the fashion community, Hollywood and women everywhere – a testament to Maxwell’s grounded nature and focus on making each woman who wears his clothing feel like the very best version of themselves. Last year, he took home the Swarovski award for Womenswear at the 2016 CFDA Fashion Awards.

The strong lines and tailored silhouettes of his timeless pieces have graced women who are as inspiring and as full of integrity as the designer himself. Viola Davis, Michelle Obama, Kristen Wiig and Uma Thurman are all avid fans of Maxwell’s line. And of course, Lady Gaga wears clothing created by her friend on a regular basis and is seen in the front row of his runway shows each season, snapping pictures and cheering him on.

Brandon Maxwell Womens Fashion Designer Profile
Iman attends Harper’s Bazaar: 150th Anniversary Party in New York wearing Brandon Maxwell.

While consistently dressing bold face names, it’s actually Maxwell’s family members, friends from childhood in Texas and especially his grandmother who inform almost every decision he makes when designing.

“They are the first to see the new pieces and the first to give their opinions!” says Maxwell of his familial fan club.

From his humble roots to his grounded, yet glamorous life now, Maxwell’s clothes are thoughtful and strong, perfectly suited for the vast array of women who love to wear them.

Here, the designer shares his thoughts on timeless clothing and how fashion still has work to do when it comes to body image and setting a new industry standard.

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Actress Viola Davis arrives at the Vanity Fair Party following the 88th Academy Awards, wearing Brandon Maxwell.

q+a

with Brandon

11 Honore: Can you recall the first time you knew you wanted to be a designer? What was the driving force behind your career and success?

Brandon Maxwell: I probably knew I wanted to be a designer for the first time in junior high when I started taking photography classes. I would go to Goodwill and put together outfits I bought and use them for my photo shoots with my friends. I continued that through college while getting my degree in photography, and my love of making clothes always remained. The driving force behind anything I’ve ever done has always been a deep passion for the arts and for creating. I’m not someone who is driven by finances. Visual intelligence has always been my currency.

11H: Such a diverse group of women love and wear your clothing. What is the through line with Brandon Maxwell that makes it so appealing to so many ages and body types?

BM: I strive to keep it timeless, we don't research trends or themes, and I always aim to make sure that the dress or piece doesn’t overshadow the natural inner and outer beauty of the woman wearing it. We hope to make clothing that compliments what the woman already naturally possess, makes her feel comfortable and confident, and most of all special. It’s always about telling her story and making her feel her best.

11H: Do you feel as though fashion has made considerable steps in terms of body and size inclusiveness?

BM: I need more space than you probably have to answer this question. On one hand I feel that the conversation is evolving and becoming more inclusive and I think we have seen some great examples of that this year in particular, and I am really grateful for the women in our industry who have made highlighting this particular message their mission.

On the other hand, I don’t know that much has changed because the fashion industry as a whole seems to have such a skewed idea of body image to begin with. When a sixteen-year-old girl that is a size 0 can be considered overweight and not bookable, where does a young girl who is not a size 0 even begin to have the opportunity to be considered if that’s the industry standard starting point? I think fashion, not as a whole, but in some areas, has a tendency to treat something other than the industry norm as a novelty, and I don’t think that’s right. For every one woman that the industry lifts up because she is not sample size, there are millions more where that came from, and that’s what we should be seeking out and shining a light on. I think fashion has a responsibility, and we really have to consider what message we are sending to the young girls of the next generation, in the women that we choose to work with, the clothes we make, and the imagery that we release.

11H: How do you think fashion can work to be more body positive than it has in the past?

BM: For me, fashion should always be about making women feel like the very best version of themselves, first and foremost. People follow fashion or love fashion for different reasons, so I can't speak for the industry at large, but I hope to work every season to make her feel good about who she is, whoever she may be. I am inspired by all different types of women, and I choose to always design for the type of women that I knew growing up, and that group of women was diverse in both race and size. I think that’s the most important thing to consider, that fashion does not just exist in New York, and Paris, it’s all over the world. Our customers are global, and they are diverse, and we should be making clothes and an effort to reflect that, and if the women watching our shows and buying our clothes don’t feel that we are, we should listen. 

11H: What has been a career highlight for you so far?

 

BM: I have been incredibly blessed with the support of many, and it has resulted in opportunities and accolades I never thought possible. But I must admit, anytime I see one of my close friends or family beaming with pride while wearing Brandon Maxwell, it always feels like the biggest highlight of all. 

 

11H: What do you think is the most exciting thing happening in fashion right now?

BM: For me it’s always the other designers just starting out, and there is so much greatness happening right now.  Social media and a change in culture has given young people that may have never had the opportunity before a platform, and I think that’s really exciting to see. 

11H: There is such a consistent strength to your collection overall that can't help but impart upon the woman wearing the clothes, where does that come from when designing these pieces?

 

BM: I have been surrounded by strong, inspiring women my entire life. They are the reason I do what I do! 

 

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