Macdonald goes back to fashion school after his French leave

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The Independent Online

A glittering Naomi Campbell, dressed in a gold sequined gown by Julien Macdonald, the designer of choice for little sparkly dresses, got London Fashion Week off to a glamorous start yesterday.

The Welsh designer kicked off the five-day event with a clutch of celebrities in his audience, glittering cardigans, and a supermodel on his catwalk. Macdonald's starting position in the schedule was no doubt a calculated move by organisers to raise flagging spirits at the show.

Campbell opened Macdonald's autumn/winter 2005 show in a silver crochet pencil skirt, crystal-trimmed tank top and sky-high stilettos, closing it in a gold sequined gown, while elsewhere an elaborately knitted coat or his antique-style crocheted dresses appeared as a reminder of how the designer first found fame; while a student at the Royal College of Art, he was hired by Karl Lagerfeld to design knitwear for Chanel.

Macdonald is now one of the few widely known names on London's fashion calendar. After a largely unsuccessful, three-year stint as chief designer of Paris house Givenchy, he has repeatedly threatened to abandon London in favour of New York or Milan fashion weeks.

However, he now seems to have settled into the less star-studded British fashion event. "I'm happy here. There's enough glamour in Milan already. London needs all the help it can get. Too many women are waiting at bus stops in the rain," he recently told The Independent.

Next winter, his maximal aesthetic will be parlayed into gold and crystal-encrusted cobweb knits, floor-length satin dresses in peacock blue and, provocatively, fur of all varieties, trimmed with crystals and sparkly beads.

Caprice, Sophie Ellis Bextor and Juliette Lewis were sitting in the front row of Macdonald's show yesterday. "I just love what he's doing," said Lewis, who is in the UK to perform with her band, The Licks. "This is the only show I'm coming to this week."

Evicted from its chic King's Road address, after complaints from its Chelsea neighbours, and shunted into a tent in muddy Battersea Park, London Fashion Week was putting on a brave face for its first day of catwalk shows yesterday. "We can either have no fashion week, or we can go to Battersea. It's not as if we're asking people to go to Iceland," said Stuart Rose, chairman of the British Fashion Council.

Tracey Emin, who was at Macdonald's show yesterday, had been commissioned by the organisers of London Fashion Week to make a fashion-themed installation inside the Battersea site. Her neon sign, which reads "Kiss me, Kiss me, Cover my body in love", was a personal interpretation of fashion, she said.

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