For his sophomore fall 2016 collection, stylist designer Brandon Maxwell took a high octane approach to glamour and opted to move his show uptown inside Manhattan’s posh Monkey Bar, where editors and front row fixtures like Lady Gaga, his star client and best friend, made their way into the restaurant’s copper-lit backroom and booths. Seated next to friends and photographers Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, Gaga, still rocking her bright orange David Bowie-inspired ‘do from the Grammys the night before, took in each look carefully and offered a standing ovation as models like Victoria’s Secret beauty Taylor Hill strut their finale walk. The music rocked, too, with Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” serving as the soundtrack to the first look.
“When I see Brandon draping and I see him with his music on, and he’s dancing, and smoking cigarettes, and crying, and drawing, it’s beautiful to watch. He’s an artist,” Gaga told reporters of Maxwell’s artistry inside the after-party, which kicked off moments after the designer took his bow and waiters brought along freshly poured glasses of Champagne. “It’s not for him about being famous or being in fashion. It’s about that he would not survive as a human being if he couldn’t create. And now he just wants to use his voice in the world that he’s made, on his own, to give more women beautiful things to wear, things that are classic and really reliable.”
Much like his debut spring collection, the 34-look showcase followed a black-and-white aesthetic that continued to put forward red carpet-ready shapes (think oversize, ruffled sleeves) along with expertly tailored suits and dresses splattered with strategically gorgeous panels of velvet. “I really love it all. I’m really not joking. And it’s because I can put any of it on any time and it’s just, it’s easy and I feel beautiful,” Gaga, who arrived in a Maxwell-designed black jumpsuit, added.
For Gaga, who revealed that the designer was also just in L.A. for the Grammys, she’d rather leave fashion design to the pros. “I’m quite happy with him designing for me and designing for other women,” she noted. “At the end of the day, I have a real respect for fashion designers and it’s the reason I don’t have my own line and I probably never will. If I ever do anything in fashion, it’s gonna always just be as a muse or as a aesthetic creative—someone that can, I like to be part of helping artists find themselves and feel good about who they are. I would never for a second claim to be proficient in fashion design because I know good clothes.”
And good clothes are exactly what we saw Maxwell deliver.