Fashion: Fierce impact

Grey horse print maxi dress
Grey horse print maxi dress
  • Fresh from his triumph at London Fashion Week and with a new range at Debenhams, former Harrogate student Giles Deacon talks to Stephanie Smith.
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Staged within the lavish environs of the Banqueting House at Whitehall Palace, the Giles show was the toast of last month’s London Fashion Week, a collection feted as dramatic, opulent, ingeniously historical and intriguingly fierce (because it’s all about the fierce in fashion).

There were Elizabethan-inspired silhouettes with satin bustiers, fanning feathers and billowing petticoat skirts, embossed and brocaded fabrics and the wild prints for which Deacon is renowned. These arresting designs were worn by models Elizabeth and Georgia May Jagger, Poppy Delevingne, Lily Donaldson and Russian newcomer Irina Shayk, plus veterans Eva Herzigova, Erin O’Connor and Karen Elson (Deacon has frequently said that he designs fashion to be worn by all ages).

Black Diva bow print dress

Black Diva bow print dress

Now we can all buy into a little of that Deacon magic, thanks to his new collaboration with Debenhams, called Giles\Edition.

“For me it really is about transcending that gap between bespoke and off-the-peg and enabling customers to buy high quality, designer clothing at affordable prices,” he says.

“I want every woman to be able to say that they are wearing Giles Deacon, and with High Street collaborations that makes it all possible. Edition is a really cool concept and the perfect vehicle for a High Street collaboration.”

This stalwart of the London fashion and art scene actually grew up near Ullswater in the Lake District, where his mother was a housewife and his father worked in agricultural sales. “When I was growing up I wanted to be a marine biologist but by the time I got to Central St Martins I had discovered my passion for aesthetics,” he says.

Black longline spot tunic

Black longline spot tunic

At school in County Durham, failing science put paid to those marine biology plans so Deacon managed to find a place at Harrogate College of Art. While there, a tutor spotted his talent and suggested he try for Central Saint Martins. He was in the same class as Alexander McQueen and Luella Bartley, graduating in 1992 and launching the fashion label Doran Deacon with his friend, Fi Doran. He continued to develop, working with Castelbajac, Bottega Veneta, and with Tom Ford on Gucci womenswear, before launching Giles in 2003. His first collection at London Fashion Week in February 2004 featured Karen Elson, Lily Cole, Eva Herzigova and Linda Evangelista on the catwalk and Deacon was named Best New Designer at the British Fashion Awards. In 2006 he was awarded British Fashion Designer of the Year and dresses Thandie Newton, Kate Moss, Kristen Scott Thomas, Drew Barrymore, Kylie Minogue, Lily Allen, Daisy Lowe, Daphne Guinness, Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Carey Mulligan and Cate Blanchett.

Deacon is no stranger to High Street collaborations, having previously designed collections for New Look and Ann Summers. With his Debenhams range, he continues to create the irreverent looks for which he is famed, aimed at the woman who likes to be noticed.

“She has a playful dress sense and loves to dress up,” he says. “Every occasion is an excuse to slip on an elaborate full skirt, a faux fur bolero or a perfectly fitted LBD. She is fearless and always dresses to impress and never wastes an opportunity to do so. The collection is sophisticated and eye-catching, it is true to my signature style.”

The range is modelled for the campaign by Daisy Lowe. “She is confident without being arrogant,” he says. “If anyone can rock a pair of full red lips, an LBD and make every head turn, it’s going to be Daisy. She always looks like she is having fun and a good time too.”

Ivory fit and flare coat

Ivory fit and flare coat

Describing his own look, he says: “My favourite personal outfit of the moment is white Carhartt work trousers, Jimmy Choo tapestry shoes, an Hawaiian replica ‘50s shirt from Sun Surf in Japan and my Cutler and Gross glasses. My favourite designer of all time has to Yves Saint Laurent for womenswear and for menswear, John Ray at Dunhill.”

He’ll be continuing with his mission to making women feel and look sensational, no matter where they are going.

“I don’t always have the opportunity to create slightly more casual pieces in my main line so it’s been great having the chance to do that with my Debenhams range,” he says.

“I am designing for an everyday woman and looking forward to seeing people wearing the collection.”

Twitter: @yorkshirefashQ