With his inveterate love of glam and attraction to the bright lights of tabloid fame, Julien Macdonald and his reputation—though flying high in the British name-recognition stakes—had long sunk beneath the horizon as far as opinion-formers were concerned. Now, though, with a new backer, Jamey Hargreaves, Macdonald is putting himself through fashion rehab. "I've stopped all the nonsense and partying," he pledges. "I'm just working really hard, nonstop. All I've ever wanted is to make women feel glamorous and amazing when they walk into a room."
Oddly enough, Macdonald's new attempt at credibility has synchronized perfectly with a certain twist of taste that has his name on it: rock chick super-glamour. The fact that big-shouldered, bling-festooned dressing is now being shamelessly enjoyed by Christophe Decarnin at Balmain (and his many fans) doesn't make Macdonald an imitator—he was already there ten or so years ago. Add to that the fact that inventive, slightly punky laddered knitwear is on the fashion roster again and you have two strikes in favor of this Welsh national celebrity: He, after all, was the talented knitter who made that look fashionable in the early nineties.
The opening of Macdonald's Fall collection of super-shouldered, Montana-esque biker looks, underpinned by his own spiderweb knits, looked sharp, controlled, cleaned up, and well executed enough to persuade skeptics to take a second glance. He can cut a mean pant and whisk up a knit, as well as labor for hours over mirror and crystal-smothered dresses. On third inspection backstage, the work (which must benefit from Macdonald's time at Givenchy) is sophisticated enough to be measured by Paris standards. Perhaps it will work again as a rebooted, serious business, and perhaps not, given the climate. But there's no doubt that Julien Macdonald is going to give it his most serious shot yet.