Julien Macdonald's up-for-it crowd was not your usual fashion audience. Determined to make the most of their Saturday night out, they'd dressed up, they'd drunk up, and they were ready for a show. And Macdonald was blissfully happy to oblige. The vaulted hall of the Royal Courts of Justice, as august a venue as London fashion week could offer, had surely never seen the likes of the beaded, sequined showgirls who snaked down the catwalk in dresses that coiled around the body or were revealingly dissected in ways that could only have been done full justice by a Bond girl (in the Connery era, at least). Mind you, there were attendees in the front row who were giving it a go, like the beauteous Abbey Clancy, a co-competitor with Macdonald in the BBC's celebrity ballroom competition Strictly Come Dancing. She won it; he crashed out in the early rounds. Two left feet, he was unashamed to admit.
That's the thing about Macdonald. His favorite word may well be "glamour," but he's cheerfully gauche with it. Case in point: His latest inspirations were the Notre-Dame Cathedral of Reims and the 19th-century house of the widow Clicquot, the grande dame of champagne (veuve is French for widow). Or, to bring it down a bit, stained glass and tiny bubbles. "Like Reims turned into Studio 54," Macdonald burbled in a burst of quotable gold. The emphasis was on light—the way it sparkles in champagne or shines through cathedral windows. "The embellishment is much more ornate than the inspiration," Macdonald said, but nothing felt weighed down by its intricate decoration. Maybe that's because there wasn't so much to weigh down: Fabric was kept to a minimum, mostly as a sheer foundation for the impressive embroidery and beading. "The dresses fade in and out of being dresses," Macdonald acknowledged, "like angels in church." That delightful non sequitur applied even to the knitted pieces (there were ten of them, as a reminder of where Macdonald began 15 years ago). The models looked like they'd been stitched into gilded second skins; it was almost as if Julien Macdonald was the Dr. Frankenstein of glamour.