Brandon Maxwell has been buffing and polishing his unique selling proposition over the last few seasons—getting at what is essential about what he does. This comes across in his clothes and the way he talks about them. At a showroom appointment he described the process as a brand renovation. “It’s not about knocking down the house, but I’m updating my sensibility to reflect where I am now.” By way of example, he pointed to several pieces in his new pre-fall that riff on from collections dating all the way back to his 2015 beginnings. The creamy top in look 2, for example, now comes in soft bias-cut silk, where early on he did it in a heavier fabric he now deems “impossible.” As for the black elegantly cowl-necked dress in look 19, in its previous life it was lime green and backless.
To extend the house metaphor, dramatic minimalism is a good description of Maxwell’s decorating style. Even with a fully covered back, the cowl neck number is a real looker. Also eye-grabbing was the lookbook-opening one-shoulder dress with an asymmetrical drape across the bodice. Though the effect is sensually streamlined, it should not be mistaken for simple. Getting the drape right took several dozen tries, Maxwell said. While he lavished a lot of attention on evening wear, he didn’t neglect tailoring. A side-buttoning black jacket with popped lapels looked smart with a maxi skirt in pleated georgette.