Julien Macdonald, born Merthyr Tydfil 19 March 1972. His mother taught him to knit, and by 13, Julien had redesigned his Cyfarthfa High school uniform and was making cardigans for the family.
He initially didn’t want to become a fashion designer. He trained as a tap dancer and set his sights on a career onstage, until a year-long art foundation course in Cardiff inspired him to nurture his talents as a fabric designer.
He took a degree course in Fashion Textiles in Brighton, and presented his graduate show in 1996 at the Royal College of Art, where he was accepted to do an MA in knitwear. Julien presented his graduate show in 1996 at London’s Royal College of Art, where he had chosen to do his MA in knitwear. Karl Lagerfeld, the creative head at Chanel, had noted his work and already snapped him up to produce the French fashion house’s knitwear whilst he was still at the RCA. So impressed was the German-born designer by Julien’s work on the Chanel line he was invited to share a curtain call with Kaiser Karl – a rare accolade.
By this time he was in high demand. Karl Lagerfeld had already signed him to produce knitwear for Chanel, to great acclaim.
Upon graduation Julien set up his own company, which debuted at London Fashion Week. On 23 August 2000 he gained a degree of notoriety when Kelly Brook attended the premiere of the Guy Ritchie film Snatch wearing a barely-there dress with matching pink knickers.
In 2001 he was named as the British Designer of the Year. He has designed Kylie Minogue’s world tour costumes, and Naomi Campbell and Melanie B have appeared on the catwalk wearing his creations. In August 2004 he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the University of Wales, Newport, in recognition to his contribution to UK fashion.
In 2000, he was appointed chief designer of the Paris couture house Givenchy, replacing Alexander McQueen. His all-black first collection for them was announced in July 2001, and marked a departure from his previous signature styles. More successful still were his ready-to-wear styles, which were revealed in October 2001.
His Star range for Debenhams was launched in 2004, and has redesigned uniforms for British Airways flight attendants, check-in staff and pilots. Feminist groups accused him of turning the stewardesses into sex objects after Julien said that he “aimed to make the on-board crew sexy again”.