Celebrity designer Brandon Maxwell might be a self-reflective and emotional guy who likes giving impassioned backstage interviews and gushy Instagram captions, but the same is not reflected in his work palette. As a matter of fact, it was anything but gloomy as he set the New York Fashion week runway on fire on a rainy Saturday evening. His glammed-up models looked nothing short of Highland Park debutantes as they strutted across the pink carpet and mesmerised audiences seated atop Yeti coolers or on the beds of pickup trucks.
Brandon Maxwell had shifted back to Texas two years back for staying in close harmony with his roots. His Spring 2019 collection was deeply inspired by his fascination towards the cowboy culture and picturesque landscapes of American Southwest which stands as the pioneer of a nostalgic retro romanticization.
Brandon and his team took up residency in Marfa city which comprises of an artist community who have gained popularity due to their permanently installed faux Prada storefront sculpture. Brandon interacted with the local creators to enlighten himself and thus came out with unabashed pride for the Lone Star State.
Starting from set details in the form of a Texas flag and sunset backdrop of the runway as well as a local Shiner beer to the tailgate-inspired seating comprising of lawn chairs lined up in the backs of pickup trucks and a front row of bubble gum-pink coolers, the stage was set for a glorious homecoming of the country star as rustic soundtracks of Taylor Swift, Bonnie Raitt and Reba McEntire serenaded in the background.
His big, shiny and notably colourful Texan collection drew inspiration from the attitude of Dallas or Houston during the oil boom of ’80s wherein women gave special attention to their look whether they were heading out to a charity gala or meeting up with friends for lunch. The vivid palette used by Maxwell laid special significance to the shades of fuchsias, pinks and Nancy Reagan reds apart from greens ranging from seafoam to teal and sunbursts of yellow and gold. The dressy denim, fly-front trousers and crisp white button-downs added further to the Lone Star State ambience.
Maxwell’s respect towards traditional natty American sportswear stood out in all the looks portrayed in the glamorous show. Although Maxwell’s aesthetic came out as quite conservative, he did not show any stringency while bringing a colourful diversity to the runway. The show opened with a stampede of hot pink hues in the form of a wrapped jacket tucked into satin short-shorts, a shift with a popped collar and a jumpsuit with flutter sleeves on models sporting Breck hair and toting red 10-gallon hats in Lucite hat cases.
“Dynasty” Dallas line comprised of matchy-matchy outfits in bold solids which was polished off with gold herringbone chain accessories, silk scarf tied around the neck and knee-high boots bearing an aura of the western lands. He kept his collection fit for American country-club with crisp white button-downs which were buttoned all the way down with bright silk pants.
He signed off with bombshell silk ball skirts and glamour gowns before taking a bow while holding on to his beloved grandmother’s arm. Ranging from the models’ pageant-ready glow to the pink carpet, big trucks and big lights; the show had everything which would remind us of his small-town nostalgia which has undergone significant changes to stay in tune with the every-changing world of fashion.
The hair game of the models was deeply inspired by the big and voluminous tresses sported during football games by countryside cheerleaders. Although Texas cannot be accredited for inventing “towering hair” it surely stood out with the trademark “Texas Blowout” which became a phenomenon during the ‘80s. Maxwell also drew inspiration from the feathery and cascading hair of Brooke Shields during her youth.
Deftly blown-out strands could be spotted on his models such as Joan Smalls, Grace Elizabeth, Bella Hadid and Gigi Hadid. Hairstylist James Pecis kept the flavour of the all-American Texas tailgate-themed venue and designs strong with pinned back hair for models having curly or natural texture into rope-braid chignons and clean buns topped with gold-hued B hair accessories which was cheekily shaped into bottle openers.
James was quoted as saying that, “Brandon has always been a big advocate for having the different girls in the show have different textures for diversity, but this season, all the girls who have curly hair, we took it back into a really clean and small ponytail.” He coated the models’ hair with Oribe Maximista Thickening spray for the blow-out element and followed it up with a Dyson blow dryer and a round brush for creating volume and lifting hair from roots-to-ends. “It shouldn’t feel wavy. It’s supposed to be clean, beautiful, and no deliberate parting. Think Brooke Shields in Texas,” he added.
This lineup also coincided with the launch of Maxwell’s Texas-themed Mac Cosmetics collection which comprises of a rosy-nude lipstick, a neutral-toned eyeshadow and a pinky gloss. This can serve as the ultimate nirvana for all the girls who wish to nail the “baby Barbies in Texas look.” Tom Pecheux, the lead makeup artist applied M.A.C. Studio Waterweight foundation on the clean skin of models and concealed under-eye circles using his hands and the Studiofix 24-Hour Smooth Wear concealer. Next he dotted highlighter, coupled with a pearl cream color base, onto the brow bones and cheek for a glow-y effect. “If there’s one thing I respect and really appreciate is that women in Texas love makeup. We decided not to make Texas a joke because there’s nothing to laugh about it. The women are wearing gentle and very soft makeup,” he added.
Maxwell had always made his models feel like million bucks as they strutted down the runaway. This was also the case during the Spring 2019 show where the Texas theme set the stage for something bigger in terms of flawlessly done makeup, voluminous hair, translucent boxes toting cowboy hats, knee-high boots, neck scarves and even pageant-worthy ball gowns. Even the models winked, waves and smiled at the audience to radiate a feel that as if they were competing for the Miss Texas title. Although the opening hot pink short-shorts and mini-dresses were best-suited for a stereotypical “Southern Belle Barbie”-type, the ones which followed could serve customers belonging to all sizes and ages.