Fashion / Style

Texas Fashion Designer’s Touching Runway Walk With His Mom Brings Real Emotion to New York Fashion Week

This New Project Runway Judge is Not Holding Back

BY // 02.11.19

NEW YORK — Fashion shows have increasingly become a family affair for Brandon Maxwell.

For the spring season, the Texas born-and-raised designer created a love paean to the Lone Star State, highlighting colorful clothing for the sophisticated Texas woman with Lynn Wyatt as his muse. At the end of the show, he appeared with his 81-year-old grandmother, a buyer for a specialty store in Longview who kindled his interest in fashion at an early age.

This time around, while presenting his fall collection, Maxwell closed his show with an emotional walk down the runway with his mother, Pam, who has been battling breast cancer. (She has finished her rounds of radiation and is doing well. Maxwell has made regular trips to Texas to be with her during her treatment.)

They wasn’t a dry eye in the house — an intimate and elegant drawing room Maxwell constructed in a empty Midtown Manhattan office building for the occasion — among the 200 guests.

“This collection is the physical manifestation of the strength my mom and so many women in my life have shown over the past few months,” the 34-year-old designer writes in his program notes. “I am here tonight because of their strength; women who so effortlessly turn the cold concrete of reality into a home.”

His mom’s illness got him thinking about “the potential of clothes to act like armor against the elements both physical and spiritual. The resulting silhouettes are a kind of fantasy; one that is designed to celebrate the incongruencies between what we want and what we must face.”

His fall collection is understandably a bit more subdued than previous efforts but in many ways more powerful. Silhouettes are strong, with high-neck blouses that resemble a suit of armor, caped jumpsuits with a superheroine vibe, and shoulder-baring racerback dresses and a classic black tuxedo worn over a sports bra that highlight the body.

Maxwell’s trademark sophisticated style is also evident in chic white slacks paired with a cropped puffy jacket and a white tuxedo jacket with satin lapels, button-down shirt, and belted black trousers.

While the collection is largely black and white, and emphasizes separates over evening gowns, Maxwell can’t resist a pop of color with a series of chic nighttime looks. An emerald green satin halter gown, cyan ball skirt and turtleneck, and a cherry red gown with cutouts at the waist are particular standouts. (In Houston, the collection will be available at Elizabeth Anthony.)

Maxwell also added a touch of whimsey to the proceedings. Before the show, white-gloved waiters served guests champagne and barbecue chicken wings, with lots of napkins available to wipe off sticky fingers.

Cheering on from the front row was model Karlie Kloss, the host of a new version of Project Runway, which returns to Bravo on March 14. Maxwell joins the show as the acerbic guest judge, in the position formerly occupied by Michael Kors and Zac Posen.

Alas, Kloss, like many of the calorie-conscious attendees, refrained from the chicken wings.

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