We don't usually expect a designer campaign to evoke any emotion other than "ooh, pretty" — unless there's some sort of controversy, of course. But leave it to Brandon Maxwell to hit us with all the feels with this fall '16 spot. The designer's campaign film surprisingly strikes a balance between high-fashion glamour and family ties, and it successfully made us very sniffly. In the moody clip, Maxwell assembled a flurry of models, including Blanca Padilla, Maria Borges, and Herieth Paul, to plop (in the most graceful way possible, because, models) into an unmade bed at the Standard, High Line in New York, clad in pieces from his fall '16 collection. However, instead of the typical lyric-less tune as the soundtrack (this one by artist The Greatest Hoax), Maxwell's family members provide the narration: "I'm so proud of you," "we love you," "call when you get the chance," and other affirmations that live in his voicemail inbox. (It kind of reminds us of this viral video that also elicited a whole lot of emotions thanks to the power of a loved one's voice, saved forever on your iPhone.)
The messages we hear actually come from Maxwell's relatives: They were all left on his phone right after his fashion show, when he was (understandably) a little preoccupied. "Call me when you have time to tell me your every thought about today — your fun and scary moments and everything — I want to hear it all," one person says. Another tells him: "Listen, I looked real close at the pictures I got of your clothes, and the construction of 'em is just unreal. I mean, I've never seen clothes made that well." One family member wishes Maxwell luck on the show; another thanks him for a bouquet of flowers he sent. Many lament that they can't get ahold of him. ("What in the world is going on with you that you cannot ever pick up the phone?" Yup, we've heard that one before.) "The video, which has many meanings to me, is deeply personal," Maxwell told Refinery29. "It captures the strong bond I have with my family and exposes the emotions that creep in when I am unable to be as present with them as I would like. It's really an homage to all of those who have loved, supported, and helped me along the way."
Maxwell directed the clip alongside his friend Jessy Price. The designer described this campaign and accompanying short as a sort of "full-circle moment" for him. "I grew up wanting to make fashion photographs and spent almost every single weekend teaching myself to make clothes, doing my girlfriends' hair and makeup, and staging photo shoots with disposable cameras anywhere we didn't get kicked out," Maxwell wrote on Instagram. This hobby became a passion, which would develop into a career, he says. "Nothing gives me as much pure joy [as] making clothes and photographing them." Maxwell has proven to be quite adept at making us all teary-eyed. If you missed his CFDA Swarovski Womenswear Award speech from this year, go watch that right now (if only to see Naomi Campbell daintily dabbing at her eyes with a napkin almost immediately after the designer takes the stage.) It's very honest, sweet, and personal — especially when he talks about those near and dear to him. Maxwell shouts out his parents ("my dad, who runs my business, and my mom who just tells me I'm great all the time, even when I'm not") as well as all the women who allowed him to dress them when he was growing up "very gay in a very small town." Maxwell and his family are very tight. In case you're in need of another cry, the designer shared a very emotional (and incredibly sweet) video of his mother, Pam Woolley, trying on her first-ever Brandon Maxwell outfit, which she went on to wear to the 2016 LVMH Prize in Paris. (In it, Woolley can hardly hold back the tears of pride, but rallies by summoning the powers of fashion greats: "Naomi, Karlie," she tells herself.) Maxwell has taken her along on his world travels, and called her his brand woman — so, she's now a little more certain about what exactly her son does. You can watch the full campaign film below. If you need us, we'll be calling the parents.