JULIEN DE GIVENCHY

Byline: Miles Socha

PARIS — Sure, Julien Macdonald has sent models down the runway with fishbowls on their heads and dresses made of glowsticks. He’s a showman, after all. But as the newly crowned couturier of Givenchy, he said he intends to do real clothes.
“Givenchy is about making women look beautiful and not aggressive in any way,” he told WWD in an interview late on Thursday, a day after LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Givenchy’s parent, named him the successor to Alexander McQueen. “I want to keep the spirit of the house and renew it for a modern woman.”
That means going back to the house’s roots and starting anew, not picking up where McQueen left off, he said. “I think the house is fantastic. I loved what Hubert de Givenchy did,” he said. “I think there’s so much that can be done with the house.”
Take accessories, for example. “It’s hard for people to identify what Givenchy is. When I ask, ‘Where is the Givenchy bag?’ they say they don’t have one. There has to be Givenchy pants, a Givenchy jacket with a certain shoulder+.In the past, the collection changed from season to season.”
Macdonald, who is currently vacationing in Bali, said he will start working at the house in April and show his first couture collection in July. But he recognizes the task is much bigger than that.
“The house had no sense of direction. It needed someone in there to spend time — and a lot of time,” he said. “It is not a small project by any means.”
Macdonald currently lives in London and said he intends to continue designing and showing his signature collection there. But he said that he expects to devote a lot of time to the Paris house. “I want to become part of the house and part of the family. I want to meet the couture clients,” he said. “I don’t think Lee wanted to do that.”
The appointment of the 28-year-old, known for his flashy knits and outlandish London fashion shows, caught legions in the fashion world by surprise — Macdonald included. “I was probably the last person in the world people would think about,” he quipped.
Macdonald said the deal came together very quickly. He met LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault, LVMH fashion and leather goods head Yves Carcelle and Givenchy president Marianne Tesler in a rapid succession of discreet meetings over the past week, signing the contract late Tuesday night.
A textile designer by trade, Macdonald said his experience working at the elbow of Karl Lagerfeld designing knitwear for Chanel couture, gives him confidence that he’s up to the task of couture. But he described his fall 2001 show in London last month as the clincher. “I think I got the job,” he said, “on the strength of my last collection: the sharp tailoring and the evening pieces.” Sounds like a recipe for Givenchy.