Julien Macdonald has joined the ranks of designers who must work two collections in two countriesa daunting task, even for some of fashion's top talents. Unsurprising, then, that signs of strain were evident in Macdonald's first collection for his own label since taking up his post at Givenchy just a few months ago.
Macdonald's show, staged in the London Science Museum, looked as if a sudden awareness of posh European fashion had descended and smothered the designer's usual brash clubbiness. References to haute Parisian fashion were all too visiblethe tooled leather belts and cargo pockets Tom Ford has used; the Givenchy-esque Bettina blouse; the heavy, couturelike flowered satin; the Versace-flavor spangly minidress. Even Macdonald's own signature asymmetric near-naked disco dresses misfired, at a time when the validity of good-time clothes suddenly looks very questionable.
As a relative unknown outside London, Macdonald will have to work harder to show a world audience the difference between his hometown collection and Givenchy. Still, Alexander McQueen struggled to find his feet at Givenchy, and Marc Jacobs took several seasons to warm up at Louis Vuitton, while their own labels have occasionally wobbled under the workload. So give the boy time.