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Fashion / Style File

Texas Designer Overcome With Emotion During Fashion Week Walk With Grandma

When Marfa and Shake Shack Shine Brighter Than All That New York Glitz

BY // 09.10.18

NEW YORK — You can take the boy out of Texas, but you can’t take Texas out of the boy. That certainly seems to be the case with Brandon Maxwell, the 33-year-old Longview native whose small-town upbringing remains an important part of who he is as a fashion designer.

Maxwell, arguably the hottest American designer in the business today, with such celebrity clients as Lady Gaga, the Duchess of Sussex (Meghan Markle) and Michelle Obama, returned to his roots with a spring/summer 2019 collection unveiled at New York Fashion Week that is a love letter to the Lone Star State.

About 600 guests braved the rain to enter the Classic Car Club of Manhattan, which was transformed into a paean to Texas, with a big state flag (with the letter “B” in the middle of the white star) dominating one end of the building and flower-laden pickup trucks backed in along the runway. Guests sat in the back of the trucks or on bubblegum pink Yeti coolers to watch the show, which featured deliriously happy models in boldly colorful styles.

Beforehand, the crowd noshed on Kruez Market Sausage Burgers from Shake Shack — even wafer-thin fashionistas eagerly gobbled them down — and sipped on Shiner beers or whiskey drinks in special sippy cups.

In his program notes, Maxwell dedicated his collection “to Texas and my family for making me who I am.” More than 60 friends and family members traveled from Texas for the show, filling one section of the building and eagerly cheering Maxwell and his models, creating an energy that is missing in most staid New York events.

At the end, the designer was visibly overcome with emotion as he walked the runway arm-in-arm with his grandmother, 81-year-old Louise Johnson, who is featured in his fall ad campaign. She was a buyer for a specialty store in Longview and he credits her for kindling his interest in fashion.

To create his spring/summer ’19 collection, which is available in Houston at Elizabeth Anthony, Maxwell traveled to Marfa with his design team because of “its seemingly limitless space. In seeking space, I found expansion,” he said.

His fiance and a college friend created a 32-minute film about the experience in Marfa called Back to Dust, available for view on Maxwell’s website. In it, Maxwell credits Lady Bird Johnson and Houston legend Lynn Wyatt, whom he calls “the ultimate,” for inspiring the collection.

A Different Texas

Though Texas-inspired, the collection steers away from the stereotypes. Maxwell doesn’t show any cowboy boots, instead featuring loose suede boots that extend to just below the knee or strappy sandals. He nixed any references to fringe and ponchos, and the only cowboy hats are encased in an acrylic carry-all carried by some models. At other times the see-through tote features a bottle of champagne.

Instead, he emphasizes the sophisticated, modern Texas woman, who is comfortable pairing a crisp white shirt with contrasting satin slacks or shorts, or appearing at a charity ball in an attention-getting full pink skirt and red long-sleeve top.

Maxwell continues to eschew embroidery or embellishment in favorite of clean, minimalistic looks and instead lets his luscious fabrics in shiny shades of green, gold, pink, red and white grab the attention.

A favorite of in-demand models, Maxwell’s show featured Bella and Gigi Hadid, in a strapless seafoam green cocktail dress and a one shoulder salmon-colored gown respectively, and five-months pregnant Lily Aldridge in a bump-hugging red halter dress.

“So proud to walk the @brandonmaxwell runway 5 months pregnant!” Aldridge wrote on Instagram. “I’ve walked few runways in my life and this is a moment that I’ll look back on forever with great emotion ❤️ Thank you Brandon for letting my shine & being such a true gentleman, Love you FOREVER!!! … It was so much fun being backstage will all the girls, everyone was so uplifting and rubbing my belly celebrating this beautiful journey with me 🤰🏻 Nothing but Empowerment at Brandon Maxwell❤️❤️❤️❤️”

Marfa Moments

The show also heralded the debut of the eight-passenger Kia Telluride luxury SUV, with a customized version positioned at the end of the runway. Kia is donating the car to the Marfa school system, along with an undisclosed financial donation, at Brandon Maxwell’s suggestion.

“My mom drove me to school in East Texas in a Kia Sedona, and my adoration for the brand runs deep,” Maxwell said.

He also debuted his first cosmetics collection for M.A.C., which features two matte lipsticks, two colors of M.A.C.’s Lipglass formula, and a powder eye shadow pack. Each item features packaging that includes an outline of the state of Texas and Maxwell’s signature. The items range from $18.50 to $33, and are  available on M.A.C.’s website.

Maxwell told relatives he stayed up until 6 in the morning on the day of the show getting everything prepared. But there was no time for much rest after the show ended as the Texans visiting New York were ready and eager to celebrate with their favorite son, who, nevertheless, seemed a changed person from his Marfa experience.

“Being a fashion designer is just one thing that I like to do, but taking a break from the hustle and bustle of it and the pressure of it gave me more clarity on what I should be doing in my life and what the purpose is,” Maxwell says in the video.

“What I found here was a part of myself that was maybe missing for a while.”

Part of the Special Series:

PaperCity - On the Runway Spring 2019

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