Designer Women’s Fashion by Julien Macdonald
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Introduction to the Julien Macdonald Brand
Julien Macdonald cut his fashion teeth early, when he was taught how to knit by his mother at their home in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales. Julien consequently became interested in design and studied knitwear at the University of Brighton, before receiving his masters at The Royal College of Art in 1996. He set up his womenswear label in his own name the following year in 1997, debuting at London Fashion Week the same year to critical acclaim. Throughout the next few years, he did stints at Chanel and Lagerfeld by Karl Lagerfeld (1996-1998) as Head Designer of Knitwear and at Givenchy (2001-2004) as Creative Director. Julien left Paris in 2004 to concentrate on his own label, completing projects with the likes of: British Airways, Royal Dalton, Barbie and Kylie Minogue as well as launching his diffusion line, Star by Julien Macdonald in 2004 as part of the Designers at Debenhams initiative.
Known for ‘high-octane’, glamorous gowns, the Julien Macdonald brand has been worn on the red carpet by many international starsincluding Gwyneth Paltrow, Nicole Richie, Liv Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, Nicole Kidman, Kate Winslet, Sarah Jessica Parker, Catherine Zeta Jones, Juliette Lewis, Zooey Deschanel, Paris Hilton, Anjelica Huston and Dita Von Teese. The brand’s success has led to a wide variety of stockists, selling the Julien Macdonald brand. As of 2011, Julien Macdonald collections were stocked in some of the finest and most prestigious boutiques throughout UK and globally including Harrods, Browns, Selfridges, Matches, Henri Bendel, Lane Crawford, Joyce, Seventh Element, Horn, Louis, Sotris, Ikram and many others.
British Fashion Designer Julien Macdonald
A Snapshot History of Julien Macdonald
- 1996: Julien Macdonald receives his MA from the Royal College of Art and is appointed by Karl Lagerfeld as the Head-Designer of Knitwear at Chanel and Lagerfeld. He remained at Chanel until 1998.
- 1997: Julien Macdonald launches his namesake brand and debuts his first collection at London Fashion Week to critical acclaim.
- 2000: Julien Macdonald signed a partnership deal with Italian yarn and clothing manufacturer Gruppo Lineapiu, relieving financial pressures.
- 2001: Julien becomes the Creative Director of French Fashion house Givenchy replacing Alexander McQueen, whom Julian had worked for previously creating knitwear on a freelance basis. In his role as Creative Director, he was responsible for the design of 6 collections a year including Haute Couture and Pret-a-Porter. Julian left Givenchy in 2004 to concentrate on his own label. Also in 2001, Julien receives the British Designer of the Year Award at the Glamour Awards.
- 2003: Julien Macdonald received the British Designer of the Year Award at the Glamour Awards for the second time. He also is recognised as Womenswear Designer of the Year at the GQ Men of the Year Awards.
- 2004: In September, Julien launches his diffusion line ‘Star by Julien Macdonald’, a range of womenswear, accessories and home wear at British department store Debenhams, as part of the ‘Designers at Debenhams’ initiative. Also this year, Julien was asked by British Airways to redesign their flight attendants’ and ground staffs’ uniforms.
- 2006: Julien is awarded with an OBE (Order of the British Empire) by the Queen for services to the fashion industry. Also this year, the Julien Macdonald brand embarks on a collaboration to produce a wallpaper range with Graham and Brown.
- 2007: Private investor Jamey Hargreaves announces a major financing deal with the Julien Macdonald brand to become chairman of the company, with Julien taking the role of creative director. Together the pair planned international expansion, opening owned and partnership stores throughout the globe. The company also employs Chris Spira as Chief Executive Officer to oversee the expansion of the brand.
- 2010: In February it was announced that Julien Macdonald was to become a judge on the show Britain’s Next Top Model alongside new host, model Elle Macpherson. The show aims to find the next British supermodel from ordinary members of the general population with aspirations of becoming a model. The contestants take part in a number of challenges and photo shoots to find the model with the greatest potential. It wasn’t Julien’s first foray into judging; in 2006 he joined the judging panel of British show Project Catwalk. The show featured 12 fashion designers competing in weekly challenges to find the one who was the most talented.
Julien Macdonald and Debenhams
In 2004 Julien launched his diffusion line ‘Star by Julien Macdonald’, a range of womenswear, accessories and home wear at British department store Debenhams as part of the ‘Designers at Debenhams’ initiative. As of 2011, 7 years since its launch, Star by Julien Macdonald, remains at the core of ‘Designers at Debenhams’ concept, which also featured collections from, among others, Henry Holland, Betty Jackson, Jasper Conran and John Rocha. The Designers at Debenhams concept is heavily attributed to its 20% rise in profits for the 2010 financial year, despite the tough economic conditions experienced by many other retailers across this period.
Julien Macdonald and Controversy
Throughout his career, Julien Macdonald has been no stranger to controversy, regularly receiving criticism from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and other animal rights groups, for the use of fur within his collections, particularly chinchilla, sable, fox and mink. His unrepentant use of fur resulted in Macdonald and Paris Hilton being flour-bombed, by animal rights campaigners from PETA, as they went to an after-show party in Mayfair, in February of 2006. “Whatever they do I’m not going to stop using fur,” he told The Independent shortly after the incident. “If I stop using fur in my collection I might as well close my business down.”
The following year, Macdonald was again criticised for the prominent use of fur in his autumn collection, causing further outrage when he claimed that “People who don’t like fur can piss off. I love fur. It’s a beautiful natural product from animals.” Macdonald claims that 60% of his business is catered for the Russian market, in which the biggest sales are in fur. A spokesman for PETA said: “Heartless greedy designers like Julien Macdonald may not care about electrocuting animals and ripping off their fur for fashion, but decent compassionate people do. Millions of animals suffer on fur farms and in steel traps in the wild. The cruelty of the pelt pushers must end.”
Visit the official Julien Macdonald website here.