“I don’t want to be avant-garde,” says Julien Macdonald of his upfront brand of showgirl glamour: “I like beautiful clothes. I don’t care what people think about me.”
Macdonald’s love for fashion was inspired by the knitting circles his mother held at home in the Welsh village of Merthyr Tydfil. Studying fashion textiles at Brighton University, his sophisticated knitwear went on to win him a scholarship at London’s Royal College of Art. By the time he graduated in 1996, with a spectacular collection styled by Isabella Blow, he had already designed for Koji Tatsuno, Alexander McQueen and Karl Lagerfeld. Lagerfeld spotted Macdonald’s knits in the pages of i-D and appointed him head knitwear designer for Chanel collections in 1997.
Utterly devoted to the female form, Macdonald reinvigorated knitwear with his glitzy red-carpet creations. His barely-there crochet slips of cobwebs and crystals, shocking frocks and furs guarantee headlines for a devoted throng of starlets and celebrities. Macdonald’s catwalk antics -including appearances from the Spice Girls and a Michael Jackson lookalike, plus an autumn/winter 2001 presentation held at the Millennium Dome and directed by hip-hop video supremo Hype Williams – have earned him a reputation as a showmaster.
After being crowned the British Glamour Designer of the Year for the first time in 2001 (an award he picked up again in 2003) Macdonald went on to take his high-octane street-style to couture house Givenchy, where he succeeded Alexander McQueen as creative director. Under his direction, sales for the luxury label increased despite some mixed reviews from fashion critics, and with three years under his belt he produced an acclaimed farewell show for autumn/winter 2004. For now, Macdonald continues to present his flamboyant collections in London, where he also oversees his homeware, fragrance and high street lines.