Brandon Maxwell S/S 2021: Polished and powerful in the pandemic
It’s been a never-ending season in fashion in 2020 due to the pandemic, with designers unable to stage live runway shows and forced to create collection videos to highlight their latest ideas. One by-product is a lot of creative and personal video statements from talented designers, few done more succinctly than Brandon Maxwell, who presented his Spring-Summer 2021 collection late Sunday night.
Maxwell’s nine-minute video began with a show producer calling the cast to attention in a mock backstage, before a cast of 16 girls took to the backlit “runway.” Forget anything like pandemic loungewear. That is not something on Brandon’s radar. Instead, we witnessed a tremendous display of high-octane, all-American glamour, presented on a great cast – starring Lindsey Wixson, making a Brandon Maxwell show debut.
From a bitter lemon semi-sheer plissé cocktail or marvelous black moiré mini frock, to a superb pink faille spring coat worn by the beautiful Brionka Halbert; and revealing bias-cut jersey dress with huge slashes on Japanese stunner Chiharu Okunugi. Maxwell’s clothes can seem deceptively simple, but their precision cut and understanding of the human figure made every look appear very special – even in simple materials, like the flawlessly draped gray jersey dress worn by Jasmine Daniels.
Maxwell’s origins as a stylist apparent in his unerring eye for the latest in contemporary beauty. Every one of his cast uber-secure, staring straight into the camera or twirling around self-confidently to a moody opening soundtrack featuring Moby’s ballad This Wild Darkness.
All finished with small mountains of eyeliner and mega eyelashes in Roman purple and cobalt blue, courtesy of makeup master James Kaliardos; and bedecked with multi-strand golden chain bracelets; chunky necklaces and large loop earrings. Every second passage featuring belt-bags and transparent fanny-packs, as the show climaxed with Free Woman from Lady Gaga, who helped put Maxwell on the map when she named him her personal fashion director.
Alongside the show video, Maxwell packaged a Making the SS21 Runway Experience video starting from car ride along the Hudson River to fittings in Pier 59 to the still photo set by Marla Weinhoff and runway set by John Torres. All the way to the designer calling the gals to order with his own mini megaphone.
Brandon termed this collection an exercise in “cleaning and clarifying” after a challenging year, where he felt transported back to his very first days in design. “It’s a representation of our path form dark to light. We are grateful to be joining you now with a renewed purpose and reality… Here’s to a bright and beautiful year.”
Maxwell originally came from Longview in east Texas, a small city of some 80,000, noted for producing multiple American football stars, but also two great thespians – Matthew McConaughey and Forest Whitaker – before he debuted his eponymous women’s collection in Mr Chow’s nightclub in New York five years ago.
Texans are known for their generosity, and Maxwell is no exception. When the bearded designer took his bow, dressed in grey hoodie and baseball cap; he showed off an Apple iPad featuring images of all his design team and backstage staff.
Four decades ago, when Dallas was the world’s first global soap opera, describing someone as a Texan fashion designer would have sounded like an oxymoron to anyone living in Milan or Paris. Not any more. That was before Tom Ford went on to become a superstar at Gucci; a status he has skilfully maintained ever since; and before the explosion of Brandon Maxwell onto the fashion firmament in New York.
“I hope you will be able to go into work and dream again. And I hope that the future of Brandon Maxwell is filled with dreams,” concluded Maxwell, as he drove – himself – around Manhattan.
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