Fashion / Style

Top Texas Fashion Designer Gets an Austin Moment Fit For a Movie — Lauren Santo Domingo and Moda Operandi Celebrate Brandon Maxwell

A Party That Jives With a Truly Joyful Collection Draws Some of Texas' Most Fashionable Women

BY // 06.27.22
photography Kristen Kilpatrick

Lauren Santo Domingo, co-founder and chief brand officer of Moda Operandi, and Austinite Andra Liemandt, CEO of The Kindness Campaign, hosted a lunch and intimate shopping event to fête Texas fashion designer Brandon Maxwell at The Commodore Perry Estate, Auberge Resorts Collection in Austin. Austin has a special place in Maxwell’s heart, as he decamped in friend Erin Driscoll Thornton’s guest house during the pandemic, where he rediscovered himself and his passion for color, designing two of his bestselling collections.

Commodore Perry creative director Ken Fulk envisions a movie for each of his magical projects — watching the stylish afternoon unfold among the cascading gardens below the historic restored Italian Renaissance Revival mansion and by the oval pool certainly seemed like cinema come to life. The guest list included some of Texas’ most stylish women, hailing from Austin (Nicole Trunfino, Eloise DeJoria, Paola Mathé, Riley Reed, and Katie Kime), Houston (Greggory Burk, Mary Steen, Ann Ayre, Marla Hurley) and Dallas (Bradley Agather, Joyce Goss, Tiffany Moon, Maxine Trowbridge).

How clever of Santo Domingo and Dallas-based Moda Operandi CEO Jim Gold, who also attended with daughter Caroline, to host a Texas event, as the guests thoroughly enjoyed seeing and mingling with one another, comparing style notes and summer travel itineraries over refreshing ranch waters, skinny margaritas and Avaline Wines. Not to mention many Houstonians and Dallasites relished the opportunity for a quick getaway at the exclusive resort.

“I’m so happy to be in Austin with the pride of Texas himself, Brandon Maxwell,” Santo Domingo says. “Since the launch of his very first collection on Moda in 2016, he has garnered a loyal fanbase who shop season after season. He has a unique understanding of what makes women feel their best, what sparks joy, and the power of clothing to truly transform how we feel.

“Bright and immaculately cut, this pre-spring collection is a true testament to that sentiment.”

Models bedecked in the vibrant pre-spring 2023 collection — which naturally launched for pre-order on Moda Operandi that day — played lawn games under the old oak tree by the fountain, and swanned around the pool as guests lunched and strategized with local Moda private client advisor Brian McCulloch which designs to order.

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Maxwell designed the joyful collection, which includes airbrushed palm trees and painterly prints in party minis, full gowns and ruffle-hemmed pencil skirts, while spending time in Montecito. His return to color after being known for the tailored black and white look — although that will always remain part of his repertoire — was prompted during his time away from New York. Maxwell found new friends asking him questions he wasn’t used to answering about his passions and interests, which reminded him that he is a jovial person at heart who wants to have a good time.

”I’m serious, too. But I think fashion should be fun,” Maxwell says.

Brandon Maxwell president Tracy Piazza (Photo by Kristen Kilpatrick)

Brandon Maxwell’s mother and Longview native Pam Woolley was in attendance, and shared that the designer’s favorite movie as a child was The Wizard of Oz, pointing out the parallel of a movie that begins in black and white only to thrill the viewer when it switches to full color.

Table linens were custom-made for the afternoon to match the collection’s prints by Spoonflower, and were complemented by Gypsy Floral’s exuberant floral arrangements. Guests not under the yellow-and-white umbrellas were equipped with matching parasols, and each place setting included a personal Supergoop! sunscreen and paper hand fan alongside bespoke menus by illustrator Jo Turner.

After the multi-course luncheon of chilled zucchini and herb soup, avocado tartare, and grapefruit pavlova, guests meandered up to the Mr. and Mrs. Perry suite for more Champagne and private shopping with a fleet of helpful Modettes, knowing that proceeds from the event benefited the Texas Cultural Trust x Brandon Maxwell x The University of Texas Textiles and Apparel Scholarship, a merit and need-based award for students pursuing higher education in fashion, with the goal of diversifying the fashion industry.

Look for interviews with Maxwell and Santo Domingo in the September print issue of PaperCity Magazine.

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