East Texas fashion designer for stars set to receive state honor

East Texas fashion designer for stars set to receive state honor
Fashion designer Brandon Maxwell is set to receive a Texas Medal of Arts Award for design.

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - An East Texas designer who has crafted custom creations for both celebrities and royalty is now set to receive one of the state’s top honors.

Fashion designer Brandon Maxwell, a graduate of Longview’s Trinity School, will be awarded a Texas Medal of Arts Award for Design.

Maxwell joins a class of distinguished honorees set to be recognized during the Texas Medal of Arts Awards.

Honorees are chosen based on their work’s influence and ability to shape the future of arts in the state, Texas Cultural Trust Executive Director Heidi Marquez Smith says.

Former Longview High School student turned Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey is also slated to be recognized. McConaughey is also a producer, director, and philanthropist.

Stephen Harrigan, Elaine Molinar, and Craig Dykers, Vidal M. Trevino School of Communications and Fine Arts, Mark Seliger, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Conspirare, Jennifer Holliday, and Boz Scaggs round out the list of honorees.

“I am grateful to be recognized by the Texas Cultural Trust with a Texas Medal of Arts Award. Having grown up in Longview, Texas, I am honored to receive an award from an organization whose focus is to advocate for equitable access to arts education for students across the state. I hope my work and the work that they do continue to make a difference in the lives of young people everywhere.”
Brandon Maxwell

“I am grateful to be recognized by the Texas Cultural Trust with a Texas Medal of Arts Award," he says. "Having grown up in Longview, Texas, I am honored to receive an award from an organization whose focus is to advocate for equitable access to arts education for students across the state. I hope my work and the work that they do continue to make a difference in the lives of young people everywhere.”

Fashionable roots

Coming from small-town roots in Longview, Texas, Maxwell says he learned to appreciate fashion at a young age by studying his grandmother who was a buyer for Riff’s - a high-end retail store.

He often cites his East Texas roots for sparking his love of fashion. The designer was “surrounded by immaculately dressed women from a young age," his website states.

Maxwell graduated from Trinity School of Texas in 2003.

“He was quite the star,” a school administrator says. Maxwell served as master of ceremonies at games, events, and plays while in school. "He always loved fashion and design.”

As a middle school student, he would search thrift stores and beauty supply stores to dress his friends in outfits, the designer tells the Dallas Morning News.

“I grew up in Longview going to Payless ShoeSource for my buy-one-get-one deals, eating at McDonalds and getting my stuff at Walmart," he tells the newspaper.

WEBXTRA: East Texas fashion designer for stars set to receive state honor

Launching a label

In 2015, he launched a luxury women’s ready-to-wear label.

“The brand was born out of the desire to make women feel beautiful, sophisticated, and powerful, with timeless garments that are impeccably tailored,” his website states.

His style is marked by sharp tailoring that strives to “capture the natural architecture and movement of the body."

His custom fashions have been worn by Hollywood elite, politicians, and royalty.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Tiffany Haddish, Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle, Reese Witherspoon, and Kate Hudson have worn his designs.

“It’s really about quality and craftsmanship for me and construction," he says on his website. "I’m not trying to break the system, I’m just trying to give women a quality piece of clothing. I want to be the place that they go to every season and get those essential things that they need, that have a little bit of an edge.”

Related: Longview’s Brandon Maxwell designed dresses Gaga, McCarthy wore to Academy Awards; former teacher says he’s remained humble while achieving dreams

Oscars honors

Most recently he designed a stunning black duchess satin racerback gown donned by Lady Gaga at the 91st Academy Awards. The musician was wearing the dress when she accepted the Oscar for Best Original Song for “Shallow," which was featured in “A Star is Born.” Gaga and Cooper starred in the film.

“This is without a doubt one of the proudest days of my life and career. @ladygaga wins her first Academy Award wearing a Brandon Maxwell duchess satin gown,” Maxwell wrote on his Instagram. “Gaga, you have made me feel like an Oscar winner every day since the day I met you, you have made my dreams come true and held my hand tightly on the journey to becoming who I am, and I will love you like the sister you are for the rest of my life.”

Academy Awards presenter and actress Sarah Paulson also wore a Maxwell creation - a woolen silk wrap gown in fuchsia that popped against the red carpet. Melissa McCarthy also donned Maxwell’s satin capelet jumpsuit in crepe ivory and black.

Currently, Maxwell serves as a judge on the 2019 re-launch of “Project Runway,” which airs on Bravo TV.

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