Born Darlington, UK, 1969
Growing up near Ullswater in the Lake District, Deacon enjoyed a quiet rural childhood, spending much of his time drawing. After school in County Durham he initially planned to be a marine biologist but failed science and instead got onto an art foundation course at Harrogate College of Art at the last minute. He soon gravitated to the fashion section: ‘Fashion was spontaneous and about getting things done which I really liked.’ From here he headed to London’s Central Saint Martins, where he was a contemporary of Alexander McQueen and Hussein Chalayan. Here, crucially, he also met Katie Grand, with whom he still maintains a dynamically successful working partnership. After gradating in 1992 Deacon did some illustrations for magazines such as Dazed & Confused and then worked for Jean Charles de Castelbajac in Paris for two years. Then, recommended by Grand, he met Laura Moltedo, head of Bottega Veneta. She made him head designer – according to Deacon, mainly due to a drawing he’d done of a budgie driving a Rolls-Royce. Her instincts paid off: Deacon’s debut collection in 2000 propelled the Italian fashion house back into the spotlight – so much so that the Gucci group bought the company the following year, and replaced him with Tomas Maier. Though he stayed at Gucci to work with Tom Ford on womenswear, he left after one season, preferring to forge his own path. On his return to London Deacon became very ill with an infected saliva gland; while recuperating he decided to start his own label. He launched Giles in 2003 using savings and a bank loan, showing his first collection at London Fashion Week in February 2004. The show was attention-grabbing from the outset since, as a favour to its stylist Katie Grand, models Karen Elson, Eva Herzigova, Nadja Auermann and Linda Evangelista took to the catwalk. The collection of grown-up yet sexy clothes was greeted with international acclaim and was bought by three major London stores; Deacon was named Best New Designer at the British Fashion Awards later the same year. He has been involved in several collaborations as a means of financially supporting his own label, including a highly successful two-season stint with Mulberry. In 2007 he was appointed creative director at Daks, but left after two seasons. Most successful has been a long-running collaboration with high-street chain New Look. Deacon started Gold by Giles in March 2007, in spite of warnings that it would damage his brand: “I believe in the democracy of design,” he says, “and we work really hard to make it as good as possible for the price.” Deacon launched his first menswear collection for New Look in 2008. In April 2010, Deacon was appointed creative director at Ungaro, and showed his first collection in October 2010, styled by Grand and accessorised by Katie Hillier with hats by Stephen Jones. Deacon maintains a sense of humour in his collections alongside the high-octane glamour, with references ranging from Pac-Man to dinosaurs. Quietly ambitious and hugely popular in the fashion world, he won Elle magazine’s Young Designer Award in 2005. The following year he won the British Fashion Council’s Fashion Forward Award and was named British Fashion Designer of the Year. In 2009 he won the prestigious French ANDAM Fashion Award’s Grand Prix. He describes his signature as: “statement, playful, confidence-giving clothes”.