Welsh fashion designer Julien Macdonald has been outfitting royalty, politicos, celebrities and everyday folk for years. Here he opens up to Celtic Life International about his roots and his passion for fashion.
What are your own roots?
I was born in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales and had the pleasure of going to Cafathyr High School, which happened to be a castle steeped in Welsh history, with fabulous grounds and flower gardens. It was amazing going to school there!
When and why did you first become interested in fashion?
When I was a young boy I always used to wear the most fashionable clothes at the time. It was during my studies at Cardiff Art College; Howard gardens, that I found my passion for clothes and fashion. My mother and sisters were also fashion lovers and used to knit all of their dresses and sweaters. You could say I was brought up in a Welsh knitting circle.
Are they the same reasons that you continue to be involved today?
I love being a fashion designer as fashion changes every day and my life changes with it. It’s great to go into my business and absolutely love my job!
What are the challenges of the vocation?
The challenges are that you must constantly be in fashion to be successful and you are always judged on your last collection, so you must always keep your focus on your next collection. You need to always reference the past whilst predicting the future of fashion and trends.
What are the rewards?
I have really enjoyed building my business over the years. My clothes are worn by the most famous and glamorous women in the world, and my brand is internationally recognized. It is amazing to see glamorous women wearing my dresses, whether from my mainline collection or my Debenhams line. I love that my clothes can be worn by women of all ages, shapes and incomes.
Is your creative process more ‘inspirational’ or ‘perspiration’?
Inspirational. I love to travel around the world looking for inspiration, whether that be to the middle east or to a tropical Island. I have never been to Japan or Australia so these are next on my list!
How has your work evolved over the years?
My work changes every season as fashion changes. My collections at Debenhams have grown stronger and stronger. I never dreamed you could walk into Debenhams and buy my women’s wear, children’s wear, home-wear and accessories all under one roof. My family and friends love buying my collections there and so do I!
What have been some career highlights?
One in particular stands out; when I was awarded my OBE for outstanding contribution to fashion by her Majesty the Queen.
What’s next on your creative agenda?
I am launching a range of eyewear with Vision Express – it is where I get to put all of my inspiration from my collections into optical frames. Sunglasses and optical wear are a passion of mine as I love reading in bed and have a collection of vintage eyewear. This year I am also launching a collection of crystal jewelry on QVC shopping channel. I can’t wait to get on air and show everyone my designs!