This has been my first New York Fashion Week since I moved 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 the earth would you return to this hellscape? Save yourself!”
Although I’m now a bit worried about all of them, it’s nice to know that people understand my decision to escape the chaos of NYC – maybe not more than Brandon Maxwellwhose Spring 2023 the collection is inspired by a shorter break from the city. His runway show on Tuesday morning felt calm and serene — a departure from the party-like atmosphere the designer favored 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 says after the show. The time zone change resulted in some early mornings for him and his team. “We got up at 5 a.m. and really work during the sunrise, and it was really beautiful.” After returning home, he began to crave the peace and quiet he felt in Los Angeles, which reminded him of his childhood, so he and his husband decided to move out of the city.city (though still in New York) and continue the early mornings.
“In that time of calm and being in nature, it really triggered a lot of involuntary memories for me from that time in my life when I was living in nature and not much was happening and change seemed impossible and life seemed slow,” he says. “I always wanted to go away from that, I thought, ‘I’m going to go to the volume and the night and the city.’ I’ve been through a lot – we’ve all been through a lot – and I really had a very intense gut feeling to pull away from it all. We followed it and it’s been really transformative for me to have that break in my life. It’s like the simplicity in my life that has been missing for 10, 12, 14 years. I think there’s a lot of that era in the silhouettes of the collection, the late ’90s/early 2000s.” (We are all a little nostalgic for that timedon’t we?)
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Shown in connected galleries at Christie’s with soothing lavender-painted walls and carpet to match, the collection features plenty of casual, laid-back pieces such as pajama-like silky button-downs and pants, overalls (styled with the top hanging from the hips), cargo pants and shorts and tank tops. Logos are very subtle as a print on the silk pieces and more prominent on the upper back of white ribbed tanks. Hair and makeup were relaxed and minimal—Maxwell actually dictated that each model wear their hair the way it looked when they arrived for their fitting. While preparing for the show fashion Virgo also found out to cut back the styling more and more with each adaptation.
“I just think there’s a lot going on in the world, and for me less was more,” he says.
There are also a few cute sequin dresses and mini skirts and a few dresses with floral embellishments but done in simple, body-hugging silhouettes for those Brandon Maxwell customers who still like to party. However, Maxwell himself probably won’t be joining.
“I take it season by season, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t had the party thing in me for a while,” he says when I ask if it’s representative of a new direction for his runway shows. “This collection is about moving on, 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 get. Like, if there was a bad result from today, at least it’s something I’m proud of and I want everything I do to reflect that, and chaos and volume is not one of those things at the moment.”
See every look from Brandon Maxwell’s Spring 2023 collection in the gallery below.