Brandon Maxwell loves supermodels, and supermodels love him. Karlie, Joan, Gigi, Bella, and co. all wear his clothes and walk his shows. Naomi Campbell was his 2016 CFDA date. Iman is a fan. But since launching his line in 2014, Maxwell has been vocal about the fact that his work is a celebration of all women—not just those who cover magazines. His collections are personal, often inspired by what the ladies in his family want or need, so it makes perfect sense that his Fall 2018 campaign stars none other than his 81-year-old grandmother, Louise Johnson.
“She informed who I ultimately became,” said Maxwell of his grandmother (or Mammaw, as he calls her), who has attended every single one of his fashion shows. That’s not just some sappy exaggeration. His grandmother was the buyer for Texas department store Riffs, and his childhood experiences at her side guided him toward fashion design—a fact that became abundantly clear while he was sifting through old videos and photographs to include in the campaign’s touching film (below). “I grew up literally behind a cash register with her,” said Maxwell, who was raised in Texas. “There’s this archival footage of me at two or three years old in a room of women changing backstage at [one of the department store’s] fashion shows. There are girls around me changing everywhere and I’m staring up at everyone, eating a big cookie. And I’m just like, ‘Well, nothing’s changed. I’m still backstage, eating a big-ass cookie while girls are changing,’” Maxwell laughed. “I realized through this process that there was really no other choice for me. [Fashion] was gonna be it.”