Now, let's get this out of the way up front: Strictly Come Dancing—it's what you know in America as Dancing With the Stars. And it is one of those bizarre British formats we have gifted to the world. Don't thank us all at once. Julien Macdonald is one of the stars of the TV show this season, and he was dashing from the gilded confines of the City of London's Goldsmiths' Hall, where his fashion show was today, to the not-so-gilded BBC TV studios to dance for the viewing public this evening. That's about eight million people and quite a big deal in Britain. And quite a tall order for the established designer and new-to-ballroom dancer Macdonald. "I'm not that good a dancer. And people seemed to think I would be," he declared after the show, his fashion show that is.
So what were we to expect on his catwalk today—clothes to rumba and cha-cha-cha in? A take on the Argentinean tango by way of the Blackpool Tower Ballroom? No, those hopes were quite dashed. "I'd already started my collection by the time I knew about Strictly," said Macdonald, who'd previously been an occasional "glambassador," commenting on fashions for the program. "I did decide I needed more crystals last night, and I sat sewing them on at my kitchen table—underneath my Tom Dixon glitter balls. You can't have enough glitter!" And, actually, when it comes to a Julien Macdonald collection, you can't really. You have to embrace it.
Today's offering erred on the side of something a little more sedate—but that really is not sedate at all by any normal human standards. "I went to Morocco and I fell in love with the place again," he said, "the avant-garde, glamorous nightlife of the past; the exotic gardens and the colors in them." In a palette of pales plus silvers and golds there was something a little more ethereal and restrained going on. But ethereal and restrained are not Macdonald's strong suits, and when he let loose with his more baroque looks—an oddly Metropolis-reminiscent body, a crystal-encrusted catsuit, or the scrolling motifs of the first and the second-to-last looks, the latter with an introduction of a hint of darker blue—you could tell the designer felt more at home. At home gluing crystals under the mirror balls in his kitchen, no doubt. There was also the darker passage of black wool knits, as always intricately constructed and finely done. "This is my job," he added firmly at the end. "My priority is fashion; that's my business, and I have found it difficult juggling the rest. I finished dancing earlier than I was meant to this week. I had to put Dorothy back in the box."