Back when Julien Macdonald was an upstart designer in London in the late nineties, he invited Michael Jackson to his show. Well, it was a Michael Jackson impersonator he told everybody was the real thing. Including Isabella Blow, who was sat next to him and regaled with tales that prompted her to believe that he was indeed "Michael." As helicopters circled overhead and roads were closed off, Macdonald and his team were in hysterics. He always did like showstopping antics, fashion as fun and event. "I'm older now—but not necessarily wiser," the designer said today, presenting his Spring collection personally, in his low-key headquarters in Old Burlington Street. "I want to have the traditional skills of dressmaking back in this part of London." He has Norman Hartnell in mind here…
How times change—but not really. The inspiration for this current collection is "Sharon Stone," he declared, adding, "Who wouldn't want to be Sharon Stone?" While there were no Stone impersonators on offer, there was the same channeling of celebrity and razzle-dazzle that have become the designer's trademarks. The Stone that he had in mind was the one from Basic Instinct, evident particularly in a white body-con dress in techno gabardine with a thigh-high split. But in the collection's "luxury island hopping" mutation—think Catherine Tramell runs off to St. Bart's after dispatching everyone with that ice pick—perhaps it was Ginger Rothstein from Casino who was more evident.
Macdonald's collection is far more Vegas than L.A., particularly in the case of one scarlet, fringed knitted number interwoven with glinting gold chains. Macdonald is a master of knit, a skill he almost shrugs off at times, but these are indeed the standout pieces of the collection, complex in technique and single-color saturated, carried off with a certain casual aplomb. Nothing is really casual in Macdonald's world, though. A cascading dress in a dip-dyed ombré silk is the "ultimate cocktail dress" and is called Tequila Sunrise because, well, it literally looks like one.
This is Julien Macdonald's view, take it or leave it, and it is as unapologetic and brazen as when Ginger tossed those casino chips up into the air. It might be quite lurid, but it was Sharon Stone's best part, after all.