South East Wales

Fashion icon Julien Macdonald on Merthyr and Galliano

Merthyr Tydfil's poor public image and the plight of disgraced designer John Galliano were just two of the thorny subjects on fashion icon Julien Macdonald's mind during a visit to Wales.

The former Chanel and Givenchy designer was in Cardiff to showcase some of his latest high street lines at a fashion show in Debenhams.

He told BBC Wales he is tired of the bad press his home town gets and thinks it is damaging for the children and future of the valleys town.

And he said it was time people accepted Galliano's apology.

Dior's creative director was sacked by the fashion house after allegedly making anti-Semitic remarks in Paris.

'Under pressure'

Galliano has apologised for his behaviour, but French prosecutors say he will stand trial.

Macdonald told BBC Wales: "I feel really sorry for John. I know him and I know he is under a lot of pressure.

"He has made a mistake and apologised and I think people should accept that apology.

"He is one of the true geniuses of the fashion world - another Alexander McQueen - but I don't want him to make the same mistakes as Lee."

Macdonald also hit out at work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith who back in October told Merthyr Tydfil's unemployed they should "get on a bus" to seek work in Cardiff.

The designer said: "If it was as easy as going to Cardiff on the bus, everybody would be doing it.

"I think there's a lot of people actively looking for work in both Cardiff and Merthyr who might disagree with him.

"Merthyr has had a lot of negative press and that is focused around one particular area, but there's lots of fabulous things like all the charity events that go on and the new shopping precinct.

"The negative image is a real shame for people and the children who grow up there."

Image caption John Galliano faces prosecution over his alleged anti-Semitic comments

Macdonald also poured cold water on the rumour he is designing Katherine Jenkins' wedding gown.

He said: "I'm not designing the dress but I'm sure when she gets married it will be in Wales.

"She's very glamorous and I'm sure it will be a big white wedding with the biggest white dress."

The former Cyfarthfa High School pupil is filming the next season of reality show Britain's Next Top Model, which has been expanded to include contestants from Ireland.

And he let slip that several Welsh girls have made selection.

But he remained tight-lipped about how far they progress through the competition, only revealing that one of them is "very, very glamorous".

'Glamour'

He also said he would be toning down his "nasty" side in this series.

His current projects involve a tour with Debenhams to show off the latest additions to his Star and Diamond labels and the launch of a swim wear line with Melissa Odabash.

He is also looking for a licence to start a menswear line.

Macdonald is pleased his high street collection has been so commercially successful and hopes Diamond will attract younger women.

He said: "I don't think clothes should have an age bracket but the cut of these is a bit different to Star, much more body conscious and shorter.

"I always say for a Diamond girl every day's a Saturday night."

He added that he thought Welsh women had glamour right, but could do with taking a coat with them on a night out.

On visits home, he said, he usually makes a beeline for the Mountain Ash pub and the Nant Ddu Lodge because it is on the way to Brecon and it "epitomises all the good things about being Welsh."

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