Editor’s Note: This conversation was edited for brevity and clarity.
Brandon Maxwell revisited his Texas roots Thursday, showcasing his Fall/Winter 2016 collection at Neiman Marcus in Downtown Dallas. The Longview native, who’s served as Lady Gaga’s fashion director since 2012, has dressed several high-profile clients ranging from First Lady Michelle Obama to Jennifer Lawrence. He chatted with us about his journey through the industry, what it’s like to dress a fashion icon, and keeping his Texas values.
Who is the Brandon Maxwell woman?
She is strong and powerful and sure of who she is. I’m really excited to be in Dallas because it’s my home, and I know the [Brandon Maxwell] woman is here. I’ve grown up with the Dallas woman, so I don’t have a specific word because I know her inherently. I can be anywhere in the world and meet someone and I’m like, “obviously, you’re from Texas.” When I meet Texas women, it’s this special bond because I feel emotionally supported by them because we are from the same place. There’s a very Southern mentality—everyone wants to take care of you. I feel very comforted by those women.
Tell me about the inspiration for your Spring/Summer 2017 collection.
I don’t really work from an inspiration, to be honest. I start with a roll of fabric and a woman stands as I build it on her, piece by piece. The inspiration is really just how I am emotionally feeling that day. I just really try to keep our woman on the forefront of my mind and give her something that makes her feel sexy and happy.
When I meet Texas women, it’s this special bond because I feel emotionally supported by them because we are from the same place.
What sparked your decision to move to New York?
I moved there when I was 18 and came back to Texas when I was 21 to go to go to school [at St. Edward’s University in Austin]. I was too young to really know what I was doing in my life. When I came back to Texas, I found such a fantastic school. I met so many amazing, creative people. We all moved back to New York together. Oddly enough, I found my New York group in Texas. I’m really thankful that I live and work in New York now, but I feel like I have found success there because of my life in Texas. It was such a great creative experience for me.
How did you become Lady Gaga’s stylist?
We’ve been friends for almost 10 years, but I worked with her while I was working as an assistant to her stylist at the time. To other people, she’s famous. But to me, she’s like my sister. We share everything and do everything together. Having a friend who has no fear has been really great for me. Often times, we’re creating work that the whole world might be seeing, and that can be scary. To have someone to lean on and back you up during that is great for me.
Did you learn any Texas values that have stuck with you throughout your career?
Honesty and loyalty. I carry my Southern values with me. I think you have to be honest and be kind and tell people the truth. Remain loyal to the people who have raised you, and remember where you came from. It’s just about kindness and manners. I try to make choices (my family) would be proud of.
Is there anything you feel homesick for when you’re in New York?
Queso! That’s the easiest question you’ve asked me all day! In New York, you can’t find real queso; it just doesn’t exist. So when I’m home, I’ll just go and eat a large bowl of queso, and it makes me happy.
Kiana Moridi is a D Magazine intern.