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GFW19: What came next for Julien Macdonald?


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He's the Welsh designer who's as well-known for his sharp tongue as he is for his designs: Julien Macdonald is yet another iconic British designer whose career was launched by Graduate Fashion Week. His career has come so far he's now one of the judges at this year's show, alongside the likes of Henry Holland and Tamara Ralph.

To celebrate GFW we're taking a look back at some of its most notable alumni, and seeing what came next for them after their graduate shows.

Image credit: Mr Mellegaard, via Wikimedia Commons

The early 90s: From Brighton to the Royal College of Arts

Macdonald first studied at The University of Brighton, where his subject of choice was fashion knitwear. His work was so exceptional during his time at UoB that he was awarded a scholarship to the prestigious Royal College of Arts in London. At RCA he studied for an MA in knitwear, where his work caught the eye of Isabella Blow - the then fashion editor of British Vogue. 

1996: Working with Karl

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Isabella Blow wasn't the only famous fan of Macdonald's - in fact, the late Karl Lagerfeld took him on to work alongside him at Chanel. He produced knitwear for Chanel, but in an interview with Vogue he admitted that Lagerfeld wasn't always the easiest person to work with: "He used to carry around an old fashioned black fan and when you were being difficult he'd hit you with it," he said.

1997: Launching his own brand

By 1997, it was time for Macdonald to spread his wings and launch his own label. Until 1998 he stayed on as head knitwear designer at Chanel, balancing both roles. His designs were provocative and out-there, very much in tune with the it-girl style of the early 00s. His biggest moment in the press came when model Kelly Brook wore a see-through pink dress (complete with VERY little fabric) by him to the premiere of Snatch (2000). 

2001: Designer of the Year and working with Givenchy

In 2001, Macdonald put his own brand on hiatus to become the creative director at Givenchy. This was the same year he was named British Designer of the Year. This really was the height of his career, where every celebrity on the red carpet was either wearing Givenchy or a Macdonald original. He even designed the tour costumes for the pop star of the moment, Kylie Minogue. 

2010: Britain's Next Top Model

In 2010, Macdonald appeared on Britain's Next Top Model alongside Australian supermodel Elle Macpherson, stylist Grace Woodward, and model Charley Speed. He quickly became the Simon Cowell of the modelling world, and was infamous for his acid tongue and quick quips. This was not his only venture into reality TV - he was also a judge on the Kelly Osbourne fronted Project Catwalk - the UK version of Project Runway.

He also tried his hand at being a contestant too, when in 2013 he took part in Strictly Come Dancing where he was paired with Janette Manrara (he lasted until the fourth week.)

2019: A future in couture

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As of 2019, Macdonald is still on top of his game, designing gowns for his own labels. His pieces have been seen on every celebrity you could possibly think of, cementing him as a red carpet favourite. Kylie Jenner, Cardi B and Gigi Hadid can all be seen frequently in Macdonald designs.

If you thought his designs would become more demure as time pasts you'd be mistaken; they're still as glitzy and fabulous as ever! 

See the SS19 Julien Macdonald show here:

To see updates live from the GFW shows, follow us on Instagram.

Lead image credit: Mr Mellegaard, via Wikimedia Commons

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