LONDON — Julien Macdonald is bored with the world. So he’s decided to create his own for his return to the London Fashion Week schedule after a three-year hiatus.
In his new world there’s no space for ready-to-wear — only bespoke dresses and tailoring that’s fully amped up to the nines.
“When I reopened the business again and every time I would go to start up again, I’d find another part of the world locked out or people just weren’t showing their wealth. Everybody was being very humble and apologetic to other people’s situations,” said Macdonald from his West London studio.
“I looked at the world of fashion and I more or less realized that everybody was doing the same thing. Now there wasn’t a direction in fashion,” added Macdonald, which led him to question what his fantasy world would look like and what everyone would wear.
Macdonald’s new world is “full of love, enchantment, disease-free, booty elegance,” and it’s guarded by strong “Avatar”-like women who possess mythological features.
In his studio these creations are coming to life with a team of more than 20 that’s been working on the garments for more than two months. A corner of the studio is used for beading and another for knitwear. A number of pieces are yet to arrive as they’re being produced in India and finishing touches will be done in London.
There’s nothing muted about the figure-hugging, glamorous sketches that Macdonald has in his office. Each dress has been named after a crystal of rock, such as topaz, amethyst, rose quartz and more.
He’s using ostrich feathers, sequins, leather and beads in every color to create an iridescent shade that’s hard to pin down. The goal is for every dress to wrap around the model’s skin like a snake.
In the collection there’s a strong homage to his past as a knitwear designer, where he worked with Lee Alexander McQueen and Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel. On his wall he has a small picture pinned of a model wearing a tweed Chanel cardigan with matching briefs that he recreated in knitwear when he was 23 years old working at the French fashion house.
“Karl always asked me to go to the house’s heritage and then tried to recreate them,” said Macdonald, who is using a crochet metallic yarn in his show.
Each piece in the studio has had more than 300 hours dedicated to it.
Macdonald is immensely proud of his “glitzy” dresses even though “over the years many people have tried to put me down, but unfortunately for them it has taken me down an incredible road to success. I’ve been knighted by the Queen for my outstanding contribution to the fashion industry.”
His ultra-grand dresses start from 6,500 pounds and go up to 40,000 pounds. He speaks candidly about his dresses not being for everyone.
“It’s a nice problem to be in,” he admitted, explaining that his clients are constantly pushing him to do a ready-to-wear collection, but it’s not something he’s considering unless an opportunity arises for him to only create dresses and knitwear.
Even though Macdonald isn’t operating in the same fashion scene as other designers, he has much appreciation for young designers such as Nensi Dojaka and S.S. Daley.
Reflecting on his career in fashion, he said that the “money never ever made me happy” and his tenure as creative director of Givenchy was something that always confused him.
“I thought they were going to offer me the job at Pucci. I make glamorous sexy dresses, what sensibility would I ever have with Audrey Hepburn?” said Macdonald, who left the post at the age of 31.