Unlike so many young designers today, Julien MacDonald's vision is refreshingly irony-free.
Growing up in a tiny, provincial town fuelled by visions of a better, more glamorous life through fashion. It's the oldest designer backstory in the book - but one that's always worth remembering when examining Julien Macdonald's work. This show is not about clothing, it is about fashion with a capital F. Cue floor-length red carpet frocks galore, tugged-back manes and glossed-out lips to rival Donatella's finest. They don't call Macdonald the Welsh Versace for nothing. For S/S 2010, Macdonald gave sportswear a stab. Go-faster stripes sliced open chiffon evening frocks across the buttocks, wool jersey dresses had racerback detailing and exposed zips popped up on tourniquet-tight trousers, alongside Macdonald's version of a trainer: perforated leather peep-toe ankle boots with four-inch heels, naturally. Macdonald's eye for excess being what it is, the sportswear occasionally leaned towards the correctional, taking bodycon to another level with tighty-whitey dresses strapped so tautly they seemed destined to fuse fractured ligaments rather than merely accentuate curves. Cobweb knits, like complex cats-cradles of ladders in black, red and white over nude mesh were eye-poppingly provocative, cranked up a notch in glistening diamante net with Star Trek shoulders. His stab at daywear was eyebrow-raising to say the least: mini-dresses and Ziggy Stardust satin jackets in scarlet or Persil white with ledge-shoulders and upturned lapels, or the marvellous sight of Jaquetta Wheeler in a glistening cognac-coloured patent trench the exact same shade as her tawny skin. High maintenance is a religion with Macdonald's girls: he yearns for those Dynasty days when women took baths in full make-up and even dressing-gowns had shoulderpads. At the same time, unlike so many young designers today, his vision is refreshingly irony-free. He doesn't craft those painstakingly-pailletted gowns, or heavily corsetted wisps of silk chiffon dripping with effort, as an ironic commentary on modern galmour. Macdonald genuinely believes women should look like this. I'm not sure what relevance this look has beyond the swisher enclaves of Buenos Aires, St Petersburg and possibly Lake Como (when Dame Shirley Bassey is in residence), but it's fun to watch such wholeheartedly, unabashedly gilded lilies glide by.