Story Update: On May 9, 2020, Maxwell surprised graduating seniors over a zoom Senior Toast. He congratulated students and their families and reminded them that extraordinary times lead to creative solutions.
On Oct. 16, Brandon Maxwell, a 2019 Project Runway judge and 2019 Council of Fashion Designers of America Womenswear Designer of the Year, visited the Stephens College campus as part of the Jeannene Booher Fashion Lecture Series.
During the Q&A event, titled “Perspectives on Fashion,” Maxwell fielded questions from the audience that was comprised of Stephens students, faculty and staff as well as central Missouri alumnae and members of the local Columbia community.
“I was honored to moderate the Q&A with Brandon Maxwell,” Stephens senior Aurola Wedman Alfaro ’20 said. “He is incredibly talented, and I loved learning more about his career. It is so refreshing to meet someone who will share the rewards and challenges of being in the fashion industry.”
Alyssa Kamen ’21, an apparel studies major, said she is lucky to go to a college like Stephens because of opportunities such as those provided by the fashion lecture series, which launched in November 2016 with a $1 million gift from Jeannene Thompson Booher ’56, a fashion program graduate.
“Even though I’m not a designer, I highly enjoyed listening to him speak,” she said. Before the main event, Maxwell, who owns a luxury women’s ready-to-wear label, attended a private meet and greet/photo opp for School of Design students and faculty, local Stephens alumnae and Board of Trustees members. In addition, he graciously hosted a VIP private pizza party following the public Q&A so that Stephens fashion design and costume design students could have more time to ask him questions. Finally, at the invitation of Stephens senior fashion design students, the fashion industry professional also reviewed their senior collections.
“He gave us very personal, intimate advice about what he looks for (from an employer’s perspective) in design portfolios,” Madeline Buasri ’20 said. "It meant so much to us!"
Haley Valentine ’20 described Maxwell as witty and inspirational, and said she is excited to apply what she learned during his visit. “I learned so much the night we got to spend with him and can’t wait to take his knowledge and grow with it as a designer myself,” she said.
“You should not let anyone or any single opinion ruin your drive and confidence in the industry. He said to stop waiting for someone to open the door for you, and instead, knock it down yourself.”
—Madeline Buasri ’20
“Keep people around you that you go to college with. You have a great network of people in college and you never realize that when you’re just all friends. You don’t really think of people as networking opportunities.”
—Kendra Sheler ’20
“Break doors down, not knock on them, and hard work still pays off even if you have a lot of connections.”
—Olivia Catt ’20
Top photo credit: William Viquez Mora.