“Wait, was it all a dream?” asked Brandon Maxwell this afternoon. That’s a question the designer has been posing a lot lately—and with good reason. Between presenting a stellar sophomore collection in February, landing major retailers like Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue, dressing Karlie Kloss for the Met Gala in May, getting shortlisted for the LVMH Prize, and being accompanied by Naomi Campbell to the 2016 CFDA Awards, where he won Swarovski’s emerging womenswear honor, the young talent has been pinching himself to make sure it’s all really happening. But his success is no hallucination—rather, it’s the culmination of a ton of hard work, a lifelong dream, and a lot of support from his friends and family back in his native Texas. In an act of gratitude, his first campaign is dedicated to them.
Created in collaboration with Maxwell’s longtime pal, Jessy Price, the Fall 2016 campaign debuted today via a video teaser. The full film can be viewed above, and ad imagery will beak tomorrow. Both the flick and the snaps were lensed and directed by Price and Maxwell, making the latter a bona fide triple threat—designer, mega-stylist (don’t forget, he dresses Lady Gaga!), and now, photographer. Well, he’s actually always been a photographer—he used to do photo shoots as a kid to document the garments he’d craft out of Goodwill finds, and also studied the art in college, but still.
Starring models Blanca Padilla, Herieth Paul, Leila Nda, Maria Borges, Ophelie Guillermand, and Riley Montana—all of whom have been with Maxwell since the beginning and have walked in his intimate shows—the campaign film is soundtracked by The Greatest Hoax (the brainchild of composer Taylor Jordan, who happens they to be from Maxwell’s hometown), as well as six voicemails from the designer’s mother, father, and grandparents.
“They’re real voicemails,” explained Maxwell, noting that the touching messages, which play as models donning his gowns restlessly toss and turn in bed, were left by his family the day after his Fall 2016 show. Sometimes, the words are loving and congratulatory, others, they’re filled with concern for the fact that their darling son or grandson can’t be reached. “I actually don’t think my family knows that they’re in it,” he later laughed. “I think my mom knows because I saw her post it, but…” Given how tight-knit the Maxwell clan seems to be, they’ll learn about their leading roles soon enough.
“I’m such a product of those people,” Maxwell said of his kin, who make up 50 to 60 percent of his show guests each season. (You can always tell who they are because they cheer and cry with pride as the models walk the runway.) And Maxwell couldn’t be happier to be his parents’ son. “The biggest thing for me this year is to be proud of where I come from—being honest and true, and making sure that my family is proud of the person I am.”
“My parents grew up with me doing the strangest things,” Maxwell continued. He remembers hiding in his mother’s closet after watching The Wizard of Oz, wearing her red heels and clicking them together like Dorothy, and asking his father for money to buy hair extensions at the age of 12. “My dad is like the definition of a Texas man, but no matter what, he and my family have always supported me,” Maxwell recalled. “Never once did they say, ‘That’s not possible for you.’ I feel blessed for everything that’s happened this year, but I feel most truly blessed that I’ve been given that gift.”
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