This has been my first New York Fashion Week since moving from New York to Los Angeles in 2017, and when old friends and colleagues and even designers ask me if I've moved back (absolutely not), they do so with a tone of shock and horror, as if to say, "Why on earth would you come back to this hellscape? Save yourself!"
While I'm now a bit concerned for all of them, it's nice to know that people understand my decision to escape that chaos of NYC — perhaps none more than Brandon Maxwell, whose Spring 2023 collection is inspired by a shorter break from the city. His runway show Tuesday morning felt tranquil and serene — a departure from the party-like atmosphere the designer favored up until this year.
"After I did the last show [a tribute to his late grandmother] in February, I ended up going to California for two months because I was working," he tells me after the show. The time zone shift resulted in some early mornings for him and his team. "We were getting up at 5:00 a.m. and really working under the sunrise, and it was really beautiful." After returning home, he started to crave the peace and tranquility he felt in Los Angeles, which reminded him of his childhood, so he and his husband decided to move out of the city (though still in New York) and continue those early mornings.
"In that time of quiet and being in nature, it really triggered a lot of involuntary memories for me of that time in my life when I was living in nature and not much was going on and change seemed impossible and life seemed slow," he says. "I always wanted to go away from that, I was like, 'I gotta go to the loudness and the night and the city.' I've been through a lot of things — we've all been through a lot of things — and I really had a very intense gut feeling to pull away from all of it. We followed that, and it's been really transformative for me to have that break in my life. It's like that simplicity of my life that's been missing 10, 12, 14 years. I think there's a lot of that time in the silhouettes of the collection, the late '90s/early2000s." (We're all a little nostalgic for that time, aren't we?)
The collection, shown in connected galleries at Christie's with calming lavender-painted walls and carpet to match, features plenty of relaxed, casual pieces such as pajama-like silky button downs and trousers, overalls (styled with the tops hanging off the hips), cargo pants and shorts and tank tops. Logos feature very subtly as a print on the silk pieces and more prominently on the upper backs of white ribbed tanks. Hair and makeup was casual and minimal — Maxwell actually dictated that each model wear their hair the same way it looked when they came in for their fitting. While preparing for the show, the fashion Virgo also found himself paring the styling back more and more at each fitting.
"I just think that there's a lot going on in the world and, for me, less was more," he says.
There are also a few cute sequined dresses and mini skirts and a couple of floral-embellished gowns, but done in simple, close-to-the-body silhouettes, for those Brandon Maxwell clients who still like to party. Maxwell himself, however, probably won't be joining.
"I take it season by season, but I'm pretty confident that I don't have the party thing in me for a while," he says when I ask if this is representative of a new direction for his runway shows. "This collection's about moving forward, it's about what's next in my life. I'm 38 years old, and I have a happy life, the life I've worked my whole life to try to have. Like, if there was a bad result from today, at least that's something I'm proud of, and I want everything I do to be reflective of that and chaos and loudness is not currently one of those things."
See every look from Brandon Maxwell's Spring 2023 collection in the gallery below.