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.
Earlier on this week Collin McDowell told an audience at London's Royal College of Arts that London is the most exciting fashion capital at the moment and it's true. Through the support of the British Fashion Council, Topshop NewGen and of course, McDowell's Fashion Fringe, editors and buyers can no longer afford to skip London Fashion Week. In fact, our homegrown talent are getting some of the biggest traction in the world right now.
Take Peter Pilotto for this example. This week the London based design duo visited Saks Fifth Avenue in New York to view a series of windows that the department store has dedicated to their much-loved S/S12 collection as well as their new space on the shop floor. In a conversation with McDowell this week Erdem too said that things changed for him when former Barneys fashion director Julie Gilhart bought his first collection seven years ago and the department store has done so ever since. So the tides are really changing for British designers in the international sphere. Far from just being creative, their collections are actually proving to be commercially viable too.
“A while ago, it was like you had to start in London and try to get out of there as soon as possible and move to Paris or New York,” Pilotto said during an interview at Saks. “But London Fashion Week is becoming a stronger fashion week. It’s great. I guess London has realized it has to support its new talent since there aren’t too many of the big old houses.” When asked about the increasing popularity of London Fashion Week, he said: “People go because they really enjoy seeing it,” not because it’s an obligation or a big advertiser or anything. Everyone who goes there goes because they’re curious. They’re excited to see what’s coming."