Fashion week is usually always a theatrical affair. From the extravagant show venues to the highly anticipated new collections on show, there have always been correlations between the fashion landscape and the theatre world.

This season, Edeline Lee is fully combining the two, showcasing her AW20 collection through four plays at the Apollo Theatre. “I’m kind of playing with breaking or changing how fashion presentation is done, I find that really inspiring in my practice and in my own work,” shares Edeline, whose presentations have been constantly shaking up the London Fashion Week schedule due to their narrative influence. For SS20, Edeline worked with Sharon Horgan and other actresses in an immersive catwalk, that experimented with the idea of eavesdropping in everyday situations. While these unconventional fashion showcasings are important in terms of getting attention to the brand, for Edeline, the experiences are vital in keeping her message in tact. “It helps me to define who I’m dressing, why I’m doing what I’m doing and what I'm trying to create; [clothing for the] woman of the future, as our rules change as women.

Since the brand's inception in 2013, the label has been worn by some of the most powerful women in popular culture today, notably because of Edeline’s understanding of what women in the 21st Century need from their clothing. “A lot of the women that I dress need to present themselves in a certain way, they are either holding positions of power or they are speaking in public,” explains Edeline. “Often what I try to do in my designs is make it about presenting their best selves, in a powerful way that isn’t diminishing as a woman.” She does this expertly through her use of colour, each season we see whole silhouettes in strong colours, bright and subdued. “A colour is really emotive, so when a woman gets up and dresses for the day, the colour they chose influences how they present themselves and how they act and how they feel,” says Edeline, who for this season has opted for a more muted colour palette compared to her previous collection. “we’re using dark, beautiful murky colours, all these burgundies, wine-reds, greys and accents of this Hollywood gold colour, and then there's the cobalt and Klein blue with a bit of mint.” 

The theme of the collection, where said colours derived from, is film noir. Josie Rourke, director of Mary Queen of Scots has collaborated with Edeline for the presentation. “We're looking at classic film noir tropes and one very particular historic way of looking at a woman,” Edeline describes. “Film noir is such an evocative way of looking at a woman, and we’re transitioning that and showing it in a new way.” But in 2020, what feminism is fighting for has completely changed, as Edeline states. “We’re trying to figure out, ‘Right we’re powerful, we can do this but there’s a lot of things that still aren’t working properly’,” so the question changes to “How do we dress to accommodate that? As a designer I’m trying to figure out how to combine all these things and figure out, 'How does that look?'”

This conversation is something that Edeline has made open to everyone. Next month, as a continuing series, Edeline will be hosting a talk with author, Mary Beard, whose novel Women & Power inspired Edeline's AW19 collection. Her book looks at how women have been treated throughout history, and Edeline saw clear correlations with fashion. “The beginning of misogyny and sexism was in ancient history; women weren’t allowed to speak in public. Speaking in public was power and women were not powerful, so I was like ‘We’re showing in fashion week and we’re always showing girls who are silent’ and in fashion we are constantly looking at the image of women in silence, even though we are designer for powerful women. In that show we had 35 women speaking, one after the other speaking about what gives them power, what they love and what they do,” says Edeline. “I got so much joy out of it and so much amazing feedback - we thought, ‘Why don’t we just keep continuing this?’ We have all these women that are wearing our clothes and they all have such interesting things to say.” Which sparked the start of a partnership with Fenwick, where each month a new speaker will join Edeline in this conversation.

As the LFW starts to draw to a close, and the dramatic noise surrounded by shows (design theatrics as well as show seating politics) begins to quieten down, we can assure that Edeline’s theatrical extravaganza, is worth listening to. 

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Tags: Edeline Lee , Aw20