A Central Saint Martin alumni with a CV that includes the likes of Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and Zac Posen, the Canadian-British London-based designer Edeline Lee launched her eponymous brand after an unintentional soft launch led to a flurry of private orders back in 2014.
“Fashion wasn’t really part of my upbringing. Clothes served only a practical use in my family. I grew up hiking, camping and skiing in Canada, which was wonderful, but far from the world of fashion. Fashion was a tool that I discovered when I was young, it was how I came to find my own identity and individuality, separate from my background,” tells us Edeline.
Her work process is simple: everything connects back to the source. “What do I find interesting, meaningful and beautiful around me? What makes me smile or makes me curious? It’s important that the source is pure because then others will respond to it too. You can design a collection from anything,” she explains. “I find that I’m most creative when I find a quiet moment – it’s not always easy because this work requires many people around you all the time. Sometimes in the middle of the night, when you are working all alone, you can have a sudden burst of inspiration. As a designer, you live for those fleeting moments. Those few minutes can fire you up for months.”
Her time as a student helped her develop the skills necessary to work with different materials and become a designer but her ideas truly morphed into a brand only when she leant how to define and project her purpose out into the world. Her brand helps women express their higher purpose with clothes that resist wrinkling so that women can actually function at a high level in the clothes.
“The Future Lady is an idea that I made up to encompass the woman that I am designing for. Female identity is in flux in our generation. Modern women live hectic, collaged lives. We can’t automatically subscribe to the identities that have been laid out for us historically. Women now are more beautiful, more powerful, freer, stronger, more aware, more capable than any other time in history. Yet, we still have a ways to go before we fulfil our true potential. How does the Future Lady dress? What is it to dress with true power, grace, beauty and dignity in today's world?
“My experience is that women are well aware; they are not blind fools. They can feel the difference when something is made with quality and meaning, fits well, and is designed with a soul, to lift the best out of you. Once they experience what it feels like to put it on, they don’t need to be convinced to buy.”
But now, with a pandemic going on, Edeline and her team have adapted her concepts onto a whole new accessory, face masks. “We are currently making a massive amount of these to donate to our healthcare workers. We are selling packs of 3 masks to raise the funds to do this, distributing the pattern freely, and in my socially isolated household, we are cutting and making packages of the materials for 50 masks at a time which we are shipping to home sewers. We have enough material to make 20,000 masks, and if this project is successful, we can make more,” the designer explains.
What are her hopes for a post-pandemic industry? “The fashion industry has been hit extremely hard by this crisis, and of course the small, independent brands most of all. The pace of fashion is so relentless that there is very little time to pause and think – and now this time is being forced on us. Perhaps this is a blessing in disguise.
“Hopefully, we will all come out of this stronger, and the world will change and improve after this. All of us – not just designers – will need to be nimble and adaptive to figure out what is truly valuable and necessary, how we can find meaning and purpose in our work after this,” she concludes.
Photo courtesy of MR Wash