NEW YORK (Reuters) - Fashion designer Brandon Maxwell kicked off his Spring/Summer 2017 collection at New York's Russian Tea Room restaurant on Tuesday, with his "best friend" Lady Gaga sitting in the front row.

Reflecting on the past year, the designer and stylist said his family and friends were at the core of his latest collection.

His eponymous brand, which he founded just one year ago, is already in many high end department stores, and he has won the prestigious award for emerging talent from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) last June.

"It's been fantastic. It's also been a little scary," Maxwell told Reuters about the past year.

"I took a chance a year ago, and I hoped it would go okay. It's exceeded my expectations, but through that process I have really learned a lot about my friends and family, and the people in my life and one thing that was really big in this collection was just love...I really saw the people rally around me and support me and be there for me."

Sitting alongside Lady Gaga, who he still styles, were his mother, grandparents and aunt.

The designer, who has also dressed U.S. first lady Michelle Obama, as well as a host of other celebrities such as actresses Uma Thurman and Gwyneth Paltrow, stayed true to his vision of sleek, elegant looks with piped hem dresses, pleated trousers and deep cut halter tops.

Different this time around though was the color palette that previously consisted of only black and white. For Spring 2017, Maxwell also used a pastel cream and a soft military green. 

Draped halter tops were paired with wide legged trousers, while for evening he showed a black two-piece made out of a folded bow top matched with a thigh high center slit skirt.

"We have a customer now which I am so blessed to have and I really kept her in the forefront of my mind," he said.

Close friend Lady Gaga, currently working on a fifth studio album, raved about the collection and Maxwell's newfound success.

"I will say that I always believed that he had it in him. And dressing the first lady, especially the kind of forward thinking first lady that we have it's totally up his alley," Gaga said in an interview with Reuters. "The women today and the clothing, they look elegant, tailored, strong but they also have attitude."

(Reporting by Elly Park in New York; editing by Diane Craft)