Brandon Maxwell's French Bulldog Stella Is Actually Me During Quarantine

The designer says his pup is a "glutton for rubbing and petting," which, same.

Brandon Maxwell Support Dog
Photo: Brandon Maxwell and his dog Stella. Photo: courtesy

As the coronavirus pandemic has changed the world as we know it, some of fashion's biggest names are moving quickly to respond. Major labels like Christian Siriano and Rachel Comey have begun channeling their resources into producing protective equipment, while others, including Khaite and Proenza Schouler, are donating to organizations working on the front lines of the crisis. Valentino's parent company, Mayhoola, has given millions of euros to support the ICU ward at the Sacco Hospital in Milan, and the construction of an emergency field hospital in Madrid.

But when it comes to coping behind (literal) closed doors, many industry players are turning to their beloved pets for comfort.

For our ongoing #emotionalsupportanimals series we’ve been chatting with some of our favorite designers, models, stylists about the furry friends bringing them joy right now. Earlier this week we checked in on Valentino’s creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli and his dog Miranda. Up next? Designer Brandon Maxwell, whose brand has recently pivoted to sewing hospital gowns for doctors and nurses, and his adorable pup Stella.

InStyle: How long has Stella been part of your family, and what breed is she?

Brandon Maxwell: She’s a French Bulldog, and I’ve had her for 7 and a half years. It’s kind of crazy when I say out loud that I’ve been taking care of a living, breathing animal for so long.

She’s probably seen you through a lot of big life moments.

Yeah, I have all of these great videos and photos of her at my studio. She’s always lying on the rolls of fabric under the cutting tables. She is with me at everything. She was my first adult responsibility before I started my company. But I have zero regrets because she’s changed my life.

Brandon Maxwell Support Dog

How is Stella handling the shift in your daily routines since you’ve started self isolating?

She is a very adaptable little girl. When I first got her I was a stylist and traveling at least 5 to 6 times a week — by one year old, she had been on hundreds of airplanes. And she’s used to chaotic situations like fashion shows, photo shoots, and my studio. So I think the only difference she’s seeing now is that both of her dads are home are at all moments.

And is she living for the extra attention?

She’s definitely a glutton for rubbing and petting. She loves to be on the couch with my fiancé and I — she spends the entire time bouncing back and forth between us. One of us will pet her and kiss her for 45 minutes straight, and then she’ll go to the other one and cry like she’s been neglected for years.

Are you enjoying the extra time to be a dog dad?

I’m loving every single second of it, although I’m having a little bit of guilt because as a family, we are not leaving the house beyond taking her out to go to the bathroom. Being in New York, it’s hard finding ways to throw a ball far enough that she’ll get some exercise from it. She’s very active, so that has been tough. You can only play fetch in the kitchen for so long.

A lot of people have been adopting animals during quarantine. Why do you think it’s so helpful to have a pet right now?

For me, the truth of the matter is that as the leader of a business, I have to wake up every morning and try to make the right decisions that are comforting to the people around me. And sometimes I need that comforting too, you know? It’s nice to put the phone down for two seconds and realize that this being in front of me that just needs a hug and a kiss. Stella is very good at taking me out of a stressful moment — she gives me something else to focus on.

The coronavirus pandemic is unfolding in real time, and guidelines change by the minute. We promise to give you the latest information at time of publishing, but please refer to the CDC and WHO for updates.

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