Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Julien Macdonald Retrospective, Starhill Gallery

Julien Macdonald Retrospective at Starhill Gallery
I was excited when I read that Starhill Gallery would be holding an exhibition of Julien Macdonald’s designs.  Julien Macdonald may not be a household name in Malaysia but he makes some of the most glamorous and sexy evening gowns and is also known for his skill in knitwear.  If knitwear reminds you of something that grannies wear with sensible shoes, you have got to see Julien Macdonald’s knitwear! 

The exhibition comprised of 19 outfits.  Most of them were dresses but there was one very special knitted catsuit. The exhibit was in a very dark room that was carpeted in black with some very bright lights.  It was quite difficult for me to take photographs of some outfits so I left them out.  Initially, I was quite apprehensive of taking photographs with the flash on but the burly guard outside didn’t seem to mind.   Please do read on to see some of the dresses.  

Mirage dress by Julien Macdonald

First up, a sexy short dress (the Mirage dress) worn by Jennifer Lopez on the cover of Cosmopolitan for Latinas Winter 2013 issue.  This was a very memorable Julien Macdonald dress for me.  I remember marveling at how it looked and wondering how on earth could it be possible to sew?!  I got to examine the dress up close and it is made of lace with various embellishments sewn onto the lace. 



This shimmering grey dress was worn by Heidi Klum to Elton John’s Oscars party in 2011.  I didn’t manage to get a good picture of the whole dress but you can see the stunning details in the picture above.  The write-up said that the individually hand cut glass and Swarovski Pacific opalescent crystals were artistically hand crafted by the infamous French Embroidery institution, Lesage.



I didn’t manage to get a clear picture of this gold dress worn by Karolina Kurkova to a 2014 gala.  However, the beauty is in the details.  The pailettes were hand cut and the dress features metallic Swiss lace.

I thought this black beaded dress looked quite modest in comparison to the others.  That is, until I switched the flash on.  Kate Beckinsale must have worn a bodysuit underneath when she wore this dress to the Vanity Fair Oscars party in 2011.  The write-up stated, “Jet-black Lochroson cut crystals coat a powerful mesh fabric, specifically engineered to create a form-fitting silhouette”.  Can they please engineer a powerful fabric that hides all your lumps and bumps? 

A breathtaking dress with feather and wing motifs.  The dress worn by Paloma Faith is on the left and the one worn by Nicole Scherzinger is on the right.


This is one of my favourite dresses shown in the exhibition.  To be honest, I don’t exactly like the whole “naked dress” trend on the red carpet.  However, it looks totally different on a mannequin.  This gorgeous dress, featuring wing motifs, was worn by actress Katie Cassidy (she played Juliet in season 4 of Gossip Girl) to the 87th Academy Awards in 2015.  I love the sequins, beading, lace and design of the wings on this dress.  The train looked so pretty.  It was actually bunched up on the platform but I unfurled it for a photograph and put it back.  I guess they didn’t want people stepping on it. 
I don't think this was the actual catsuit worn by Kim K.......
And here we have a black knitted catsuit worn by Kim Kardashian to the Brit Awards in 2015.  The catsuit features the “spider web” engineered knitted hole technique that Julien Macdonald is famous for and is made out of a specially knitted luxurious rich silk stretch velvet.  Sounds like an amazing fabric! 
Amazing - the pailettes are arranged to look like python scales
I loved this python-inspired bronze dress worn by Kylie Minogue at the 2012 Royal Variety Performance.  Look at how the pailettes are cut to wind around the body like a snake’s scales.  The flashes of skin are actually covered by nude tulle so the dress doesn’t actually have cut-outs. 

I didn’t get a clear picture of this nude-looking sequined dress worn by Nicole Scherzinger (the write-up misspelled it as Sherzinger) at the X Factor Final in 2013.  The sequins were individually dyed in an array of rose gold, silver and gold tones.  The dress was inspired by the fireworks at Sydney Opera House. 

This futuristic-looking dress with pagoda epaulettes was worn by the beautiful Miss Rihanna to a Grammys after party in 2010.  Again, this dress featured hand-sewn Swarovski crystals and custom-designed Swiss lace.  I loved the crystals near the hem of the dress.  Rather like a chandelier, don’t you think?  By the way, I must go and find out what’s the deal with Swiss lace.  I’ve only heard of French lace. 
Underneath your clothes.........there's an endlesss story
I rarely think of fringe dresses as sexy but this deep red number worn by Shakira in her Can’t Remember to Forget You video changed my mind.  Alright, it’s more of an embroidered body suit with a hand-dyed fringe skirt attached.  “Elaborate overlapping Japanese bugle beading techniques” were used to embellish the dress with crystals.  I have got to read up on those techniques.  So interesting!  The dress was inspired by a phoenix rising from the fire (actually, doesn’t the phoenix rise from the ashes, not fire?).
Say you'll remember me, standing in a nice dress
I think this might be the most demure dress shown in the exhibition.  No surprise, as it was worn by Taylor Swift to the Elle Style Awards this year.  The emerald green silk satin is given an edge from the black French Chantilly lace (finally, not Swiss lace) and leather accents.  Of course, there is also embroidery and crystals and beading on the dress as well. 


This beautiful dress was inspired by the waterfalls of Argentina.  Worn by Zoe Saldana to the Golden Eagle Awards in 2014, the dress is embellished with micro-cut bugle beads, sequins, beveled glass and crystals.  I love the sequins cascading down the sheer skirt.  Despite looking like it has a low neckline, the dress actually has a high illusion neckline so that the wearer is completely covered up.  It’s just that some parts are transparent. 
Lights, lights, lights
This dazzling dress with rectangular gold sequins was worn by Ellie Goulding to the 2014 Brit Awards.  While some of the other dresses shimmered, this one shone brightly with an almost dizzying effect.  The train was beautiful and delicate, a contrast to the chunkier sequins. 


I failed to get pictures of the other dresses worn by Katy Perry (this one was under a very bright light), Gwen Stefani, Cher, Shirley Bassey and Paloma Faith.  Anyway, you may spot them in the other photos I posted.  I wish that the venue was not quite so dark and that the lighting was better.  I thought that some of the lights were far brighter than others, for some odd reason.  But then again, I’m not a good photographer so the lighting might have nothing to do with my horrible pictures.  The carpet bunched up in a couple of places so it might have been dangerous (imagine tripping and falling and ruining one of the dresses).  On the other hand, the exhibition was free and in a good location and you can really study the dresses closely. 

Fans of fashion and glamorous red carpet dresses should definitely pay a visit to the Julien Macdonald Retrospective before it’s over. 

Unfortunately, this dress wasn't shown at the exhibit

Julien Macdonald Retrospective
20 – 27 November 2015
Free admission(yay!)
Indulge Floor, Starhill Gallery (near Shiatzy Chen)

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