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March 31, 2016

Scene and Heard: Brandon Maxwell

“I grew up in a clothing store,” says Brandon Maxwell. So it’s no surprise that the Texas-born women’s ready-to-wear designer and Lady Gaga’s fashion oracle (since 2012) looks cozy and relaxed sitting steps from racks filled with his spring 2016 collection at Saks Fifth Avenue‘s Beverly Hills boutique. Maxwell’s grandmother owned a boutique in Longview, a city in eastern Texas, and the designer got an early education in style from both the looks she sold and the customers who stopped in each season. But, interestingly, Maxwell, who assisted stylists including Deborah Afshani, Edward Enninful, and Nicola Formichetti before striking out on his own, says each of his collections begins with music rather than a search through archival magazines or journeys to distant lands. “It’s me alone in a room, draping clothes, and listening.” Maxwell also notes that he relies on real women of various shapes and sizes to create the looks. “There are certain things a woman needs to remind you of, the look needs to be comfortable for her,” he says. The spring designs, created with Billy Joel’s “She’s Always a Woman” on repeat, including pantsuits, separates, dresses, and gowns are sporty but always polished. “I see it all as daywear, just a bit elevated,” says Maxwell, noting that he grew up among women who dressed for events. “Every time you step out of your door, you’re going somewhere,” he quips. As for Maxwell’s inspiration, he finds it within himself. “When you’re starting out, you’re getting out all the ideas you’ve had in your head your whole life,” he says. So far, between understated pantsuits (see Gaga in her most recent polished incarnation) and gowns with jutting architectural hips rendered in a simple palette of black, ivory, and blush, the early ideas have been really good ones.

By Elizabeth Varnell

Pictured: Brandon Maxwell at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills.
Photo by Donato Sardella

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