Man of the hour Meet all-round ris­ing star Bran­don Maxwell

Meet Bran­don Maxwell, award-win­ning de­signer, Lady Gaga’s first fash­ion choice (and BFF), and all-round ris­ing star.

Glamour (South Africa) - - Glamour 2017 March -

It’s the day of the 2016 CFDA Awards, aka the fash­ion Os­cars, and Bran­don Maxwell, 31, is nom­i­nated for the Swarovski Award for Womenswear and – spoiler alert! – will go on to win, and his nerves are kick­ing in. “I’ve been sick about it,” he says as he sits on the ter­race of the ho­tel room where he and his date, Naomi Camp­bell, are prep­ping for the event. “I’ll prob­a­bly go home for a cheese­burger af­ter­wards. I’m not a partier.” But don’t let the but­ter­flies fool you. Bran­don is one of the most in-de­mand peo­ple in fash­ion right now. He’s Lady Gaga’s fash­ion direc­tor and BFF. And he jug­gles styling gigs with run­ning his own la­bel, one which has landed on Iman and Kar­lie Kloss, among oth­ers, in only two sea­sons. And the clothes? They aren’t for wall­flow­ers; more like femme fa­tales. We sat down with him to talk fash­ion, re­venge dress­ing (it’s a thing) and why the wo­man al­ways comes first. GLAM­OUR You launched your la­bel two years ago and now you’re nom­i­nated for one of the top awards in fash­ion. Does it feel like a whirl­wind? Bran­don Maxwell My life was in a very dif­fer­ent place two years ago, per­son­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally. I can’t be­lieve I’m here right now. I’m wear­ing a tuxedo, which I’ve only done once be­fore. I don’t usu­ally wear things without stretch.

Your de­signs are the op­po­site of your per­sonal style, and so much fash­ion has a sporty feel now, but what you’re do­ing has a more ‘dressed’ at­ti­tude.

My job is to make women feel beau­ti­ful – no one cares what I look like. Speak­ing hon­estly, I think that some­times that con­fi­dent, sexy look comes from my not feel­ing that way. I’m de­sign­ing for the wo­man I would want to be.

Many de­sign­ers only care about the in­genue, yet you dress women of all ages.

The first thing I said when we started was that I wanted to be able to dress the daugh­ter all the way to the grand­mother. There are things that are higher around the neck be­cause my mom’s sen­si­tive about her neck. Also, I didn’t grow up in an all-white neigh­bour­hood. I don’t want to be a brand that’s like, “You’re not at our ta­ble.” You are.

That’s an em­pow­er­ing mes­sage.

It’s a wo­man-cen­tred brand. All the women in my life see the col­lec­tion ev­ery day. There’s a group mes­sage with my girl­friends, and I ask them, “Would you wear it?” Your child­hood friends aren’t afraid to say, “No, that’s hideous.” Some­times when you’re work­ing un­til 2am you think you have an amaz­ing idea, and you come back at 8am and you’re like, “That’s the worst idea I’ve had in my life.” So it’s im­por­tant to share.

How would you de­scribe your de­sign ap­proach?

I make sim­ple things that are tai­lored. It’s the per­fect black trousers or the per­fect blazer. We do only six or seven gowns, and they’re usu­ally black. I don’t do a lot of pageantry. I never want my clothes to out­shine the wo­man.

What’s been a ca­reer high­light?

They’re all high­lights. The first one was Lady Gaga at the 2015 Em­mys. She al­ways makes me feel like it’s the only and best op­tion, even when she has hun­dreds of op­tions. And ob­vi­ously Lady Gaga at the 2016 Os­cars was a dream come true. So much of what I have is be­cause of her.

Which women in­spire you?

My friends. Jackie O. Princess Diana. When I get stuck, I’m like, “Would Diana wear this?” I’ve al­ways been in­spired by women who hold their heads up high. No­body thinks, ‘Poor Jackie O’. She was cheated on and ev­ery­thing was aw­ful for her. But she didn’t cry in pub­lic. She put on a ma­jor out­fit, walked out the door, and she was strong.

And the clothes helped her achieve that.

One thou­sand per­cent, and that strength and grace are what I’m at­tracted to. We all have days when we just can’t get out of bed, but we have to, and I think about that when I’m de­sign­ing. I’m like, “What dress is she go­ing to put on that [the man who wronged her] sees it in a pic­ture and re­alises what a mis­take he made?” There is noth­ing bet­ter than that. Ev­ery­body wants that mo­ment.

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