By his own admission, Julien Macdonald has never been a designer set on pushing boundaries. 'I've made my name by dressing celebrities and that's fine,' he said recently. 'Glamour is always in fashion' he added, and there definitely has to be some truth in that. To say that he's doing well is quite the understatement. What he doesn't have in sales numbers for his mainline, he definitely has with his collections for Debenhams (his line with them is their most successful designer collaboration) and his recent foray into reality TV on 'Britain and Ireland's Next Top Model' have ensured that he has found a place in all of our living rooms as well as our wardrobes.
Because of his focus on all things celebrity, he was never a designer that followed. That's not because I don't respect what he does - I really do - but rather, his penchant for all things glamour and IT girl isn't something that I'm particularly drawn to. That said, recently I was lucky enough to join Shop Style on the Fashion Fringe roadshow where Collin McDowell spoke to the designer at the University of Brighton where he studied and I was totally won over. Not only is he incredibly charming, he is also incredibly outgoing (a characteristic, which Macdonald himself noted isn't very common amongst designers) and completely honest and unfiltered.
What was interesting about the talk was that a lot of us left realising just how little we knew about his incredible past.
One Monday back in January I spent the morning with Amy Powney, Head Designer at Mother of Pearl. Rather than meeting in a fancy restaurant or hotel in Central London, which is often the case, Powney invited me to the brand's studio based in the middle of East London's bustling creative scene. The team were in the middle of preparing for their A/W 2012 collection but were kind enough to devote their morning to talk me through the brand and transport me into the Mother of Pearl world; and I can safely confirm that that world is not a bad place to be. The team are uncompromisingly enthusiastic and passionate about what they do and it's infectious.
Whilst you may be unfamiliar with the brand now, give it a year or so and that will change. The company has actually been around for several years but it is only now that things have really come together. Teams have come and gone and the aesthetic has changed several times so it was only four seasons ago when Powney was appointed as head designer that things began to change. This fact isn't something they shy away from. In fact, Powney was pretty frank when asked about it. "People in the industry take fashion very seriously so if you've seen a brand through several different phases, people move on and lose interest. It has taken time to get people to come back and see it but I finally feel like it's at a good point and people can see that it's a good concept." It's the brand's present carnation that has helped win them a legion of fans and become on of the industry's best kept secrets. And while MOP, as the team call it, was established by Maia Norman who continues to serve as creative director, it is Amy who has managed to articulate her easy sports wear vision.