Fashion / Style

Stylish Texas Women Convened at The Commodore Perry Estate in Austin for Brandon Maxwell’s Joyful Collection

A State-Wide Guest List of the Sartorially Savvy

BY // 09.02.22
photography Kristen Kilpatrick

Lauren Santo Domingo, co-founder of Moda Operandi, and Austin philanthropist Andra Liemandt, CEO of The Kindness Campaign, hosted a glamorous poolside lunch and intimate shopping event to celebrate New York designer Brandon Maxwell at The Commodore Perry Estate, an Auberge Resort, in Austin. That city holds a special place in the Longview, Texas native’s heart. It’s where Maxwell designed two of his best-selling collections while staying at friend Erin Driscoll Thornton’s guest house during the pandemic.

Commodore Perry Estate creative director Ken Fulk envisions a movie for each of his magical projects, and the afternoon that unfolded among the gardens cascading below the restored 1928 Italian Renaissance Revival mansion certainly seemed cinematic. The guest list drew stylish women from across Texas, hailing from Austin (Nicole Trunfio, Eloise DeJoria, Paola Mathé, Riley Reed, and Katie Kime), Houston (Greggory Burk, Mary Steen, Ann Ayre, and Marla Hurley), and Dallas (Bradley Agather, Joyce Goss, Tiffany Moon, and Maxine Trowbridge). How clever of Santo Domingo and Dallas-based Moda Operandi CEO Jim Gold, who attended with daughter Caroline, to host a Texas-inclusive event.

“I’m so happy to be in Austin with the pride of Texas himself, Brandon Maxwell,” Santo Domingo said. “Since the launch of his first collection on Moda in 2016, he has garnered a loyal fan base 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.”

370 KristenKilpatrick_MODA_OPERANDI126 (1) (Photo by Kristen Kilpatrick)
Models in Brandon Maxwell’s vibrant Pre-Spring 2023 collection — which naturally launched for pre-order on Moda Operandi that day — played lawn games under a spreading oak tree at The Commodore Perry Estate. (Photo by Kristen Kilpatrick)

Models in the vibrant Pre-Spring 2023 collection — which naturally launched for pre-order on Moda Operandi that day — played lawn games under a spreading oak tree and later swanned around the oval pool as guests lunched and strategized with local Moda private-client advisor Brian McCulloch. 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 seasons of tailored black and white was prompted during his time away from New York. His mother, Pam Woolley, who lives in Longview, said Maxwell’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 made for the afternoon to match the collection’s prints by Spoonflower, complemented by Gypsy Floral’s exuberant 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 menus by illustrator Jo Turner.


Introducing Pêche

  • Bering's Gift's May 2024
  • Bering's Gift's May 2024
  • Bering's Gift's May 2024
  • Bering's Gift's May 2024
  • Bering's Gift's May 2024
  • Bering's Gift's May 2024
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After lunch, an intimate Brandon Maxwell shopping event we held at The Commodore Perry Estate in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Kristen Kilpatrick)

In Conversation With Brandon Maxwell and Lauren Santo Domingo

After the luncheon of avocado tartare and grape pavlova, guests retreated to the Mr. and Mrs. Perry Suite for more champagne and private shopping with a fleet of helpful Modettes, with proceeds from the afternoon benefiting 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.

The Interview

Pre-luncheon, PaperCity spent 30 compelling minutes in the Commodore Perry Library with Lauren Santo Domingo and Brandon Maxwell, chatting about everything from personal collections to vices.

On Brandon’s Longview, Texas, roots.
BM: When I started working with Lauren and Moda, she really leaned into the fact that I was from Texas. She said, “That’s what makes you special.” I grew up with my mom, who would come down the stairs when she would go to an event, and the hair was big, and the jewelry was big, and everything was fun, you know? There’s never a part of me that doesn’t think about being from Texas. There’s never a part of me that has run from that.

On a possible home collection.
BM: I’ve always been into setting the table — very into setting the table. I’m deeply into florals. I worked for eight days to get the Easter table ready, because I want everyone to know that I care. I’m excited about eventually having the opportunity to do that in other avenues as well. Home would be my favorite. And, Lauren sets the most beautiful table!

Personal collections.
BM: Handbags and china.
Lauren Santo Domingo: So many things. A lot of tabletop: porcelain and little things like salt and pepper dishes. I have a couple of patterns of china: a rare 18th-century Wedgwood and cabbage ware by Chelsea House. I’m always starting something. If I find one thing, it’s always my goal to eventually find six of them.

Favorite city to shop in.
BM: Nantucket. Wicker and rattan for the table.

LSD: I love that for you.Tokyo for food and things for the house, like beautiful ceramics, porcelain, and carved wood. Paris for designer vintage fashion and things for the table. Maybe Japan for the country and Paris for the city.

LSD: Hardcover books.

Favorite thing about each other.
LSD: His love and respect for American women. He truly knows us and values us and dresses us for the life that we have worked so hard to achieve.
BM: So many things. She has such discerning taste, looks great in clothes — and really, really loves clothes. In a sea of people that oftentimes have a hard time being real, she is one of the most real people that I’ve met. In the fashion world, she’s one who will always answer and always tell you the truth.

Advice to your younger self.
BM: Just relax. I have always been a busybody and a worrier.
LSD: When I started working at Vogue, Vera Wang said to me, “Life is a marathon and not a sprint.” To take my time, really learn about the industry and take the time to understand it. I learned to pace myself. I launched my business when I was 35 years old. And even that feels a bit early, in a way. I think now, especially, there’s so much pressure on young women. They feel that they need to do everything before they’re 25 and that by 28, their life is over. I was actually slow- walking so many things, trying to wait until I was really, really ready.

What’s next for Moda?
LSD: We’ll be launching beauty in our own curated and unique way with a very special point of view.

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