It's not uncommon to hear roaring cheers and screams of joy come from backstage at a fashion show once the finale has walked and the designer is ready to take their bow. What is uncommon, however, is coming upon this sort of celebration before the collection even hits the runway. But as guests at Brandon Maxwell's Fall 2017 show on Tuesday evening took their seats — and took in the breathtaking sunset view from the 71st floor of 4 World Trade Center — the latter is precisely what happened. Thanks to the designer's excellent casting, dreamy venue and confident fall offering that expanded beyond his signature eveningwear, it wasn't premature.
"I've faced my fears, and I'm ready to let go of what I think people want from me, or what I should be," Maxwell, who started his eponymous label just two years ago, wrote in the show notes. "Up here, high on the 71st floor, without distractions, I'm putting everything on the runway that scared me before." The brand is still in its infancy — and was honored with the Swarovski Award for Womenswear at the 2016 CFDA Awards — but Maxwell's already been boxed in as an eveningwear designer on account of his sharp, tailored suiting and red carpet-ready gowns that are beloved by celebrities like Kerry Washington, Kate Hudson, Gwyneth Paltrow and the designer's dear friend Lady Gaga.
For fall, he made an effort to break away from all that, introducing more playful, wearable elements like chunky sweaters, leather cigarette pants, fitted jackets and shirtdresses that give his customers some great options for daytime. Maxwell also expanded his usually muted color palette with rich jewel tones — including an emerald fox fur coat — and mixed up the texture using crystals, knits, suede and ponyhair. The collection as a whole didn't veer too far outside the designer's comfort zone, but we're thinking it was merely a preview of things to come as he works to build out his young brand's offering.
If Maxwell wasn't super-confident heading into the evening, the audience certainly couldn't tell from what was happening on the runway. Models cheered each other on from the wings, with a few fabulous souls (we're looking at you, Grace Elizabeth and Riley Montana) going so far as to dance instead of walk. We don't blame them, as the soundtrack of classic, anthemic jams like En Vogue's "Free Your Mind," Michael Jackson's "Black or White" and Queen's "I Want To Break Free" was easily among the best of the week. The casting by James Scully played up diversity, and the beauty look was all about individuality; models like Alanna Arrington, Imaan Hammam, Dilone and Karly Loyce proudly wore their natural, voluminous curls which, if you ask me, gave them even more swagger during the show. It was a heartwarming display of girl power and self-assurance, and it was infectious; hopefully Maxwell carries that feeling with him as he continues branching out in the seasons ahead.
See every look from the Brandon Maxwell Fall 2017 collection in the gallery below.