Julien Macdonald’s Business Goes Into Liquidation – WWD

LONDON — Tough economic times have claimed another industry victim — Julien Macdonald, whose business has gone into liquidation.

On Sunday, insolvency practitioners FTS Recovery confirmed that Alan Coleman and Marco Piacquadio​ have been appointed joint liquidators to the fashion brand that was founded by Macdonald in 1997.

In a brief statement, FTS said Macdonald’s business fell into trouble during the COVID-19 pandemic, “which has affected all aspects of the retail sector.”

FTS added that Macdonald’s label had lost “a significant proportion of revenue” following the collapse of Debenhams at the end of 2020, and that no employees or existing contracts could be saved.

The liquidators said they are selling stock and other assets in order to seek repayment for creditors. 

Coleman, a director at FTS Recovery, added that cashflow at Julien Macdonald had been severely impacted due to the “loss and under performance” of several key contracts.

“The cashflow issues were compounded by general inflationary costs, which impacted on all aspects of the business,” Coleman added.

Britain, like many other countries, has been fighting to bring down inflation and has witnessed a series of punishing interest rate hikes over the past 12 months.

In February, Macdonald — a knitwear specialist and runway showman — had returned to London Fashion Week after a three-year hiatus.

He made his comeback with a typically glittering show and a front row that was brimming with wealthy clients and reality TV stars wearing his ultra-glamorous designs.

In true Macdonald fashion, the show featured laser lights and smoke, with the first model emerging from the fog in a black, long-sleeved bodysuit decorated with mirrors.

There were cutout minidresses, feathered styles and men’s tailoring featuring studs, embroidery and sequins. 

“I’m so happy because I’m back to doing what I love, which is making women feel glamorous,” said the designer, who staged the show with help from his friend and biggest private client, the Mexican socialite Gabriela González.

Before the show, WWD paid a visit to Macdonald’s London studio, where a team of more than 20 were hand-beading and knitting his high-end runway looks.

But the buzz around the final show was not enough to sustain the designer, who had suffered a series of setbacks in recent years.

Julien Macdonald

Julien Macdonald

Julien Macdonald

Macdonald, along with Jasper Conran, Matthew Williamson, John Rocha and Preen, had been among a group of British designers with longterm, lucrative contracts for secondary collections for Debenhams.

Those contracts allowed many of those creative talents to sustain their businesses, stage runway shows and bolster their profiles. But everything ended when Debenhams collapsed.

In 2021, Boohoo purchased Debenhams’ brand equity, website and customer base, but the physical stores across the country shut for good.  

The same year that Debenhams closed, Macdonald inked a three-year deal with Freemans Grattan Holdings, the U.K. division of the German retail giant Otto Group, for a collection of clothing, accessories and homeware.

He also contributed some of his new designs to that company’s Curvissa plus-size collection, and Kaleidoscope, which focuses on more formalwear and eveningwear. A selection of his styles were also sold through the Otto sites in Germany.

The liquidation marks the end of an extraordinary run for the designer who has dressed the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Kylie Minogue, Kim Kardashian, Beyoncé and Heidi Klum — and who is no stranger to the stage himself.

He has appeared as a judge on “Britain & Ireland’s Next Top Model” and as a contestant on the popular TV show “Strictly Come Dancing” in the U.K.

At the start of his career the designer worked with Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel and with Lee Alexander McQueen designing knitwear. He served as head designer at Givenchy from 2001 to 2004, and during the Aughts designed the flight attendants’ uniforms for British Airways

Julien Macdonald joins a long list of fashion businesses that have run into trouble due to the impact of the pandemic, rising inflation and interest rates.

As reported last week, Christopher and Tammy Kane purchased the IP and assets of the Christopher Kane fashion label, which had been placed into administration last month.

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