“Clothing for the Future Lady” is how Vancouver-born, London-based fashion designer Edeline Lee describes her symbiosis of impeccable tailoring, plush textiles and space-age glamour. Her clothes often have a retro tinge and always have a timeless appeal, reflecting the years she spent working with Alexander McQueen, Zac Posen and the century-old bespoke tailor shop Connock & Lockie before debuting her eponymous collection in 2014. This season, she swerved from her signature hyper-pigmented pieces to an assemblage of black, white and rich metallics. Its inspiration was drawn from Lee’s first foray into design while she was a student, with the motif of a mystical eye emphasizing a feeling of artistic freedom.
“Anyone in the fashion industry has to be very resilient,” Lee says on a videoconference call from her East London studio during the city’s fashion week in September, which was pared down because of the death of Queen Elizabeth. The more easygoing pace is better suited to Lee’s business model. Her slow fashion approach means the brand’s sumptuous, sculptural garments and accessories are handmade in-house using materials from family owned companies in Italy, while fabric dyeing is done in Yorkshire.
“We cut, sew and do quality control here,” Lee says, gesturing to her surroundings and the intimate way her pieces are crafted. “I think I chose this path as a lifestyle decision,” she adds, noting that while she tried working with outside factories in the past, it added a sense of disembodiment that didn’t suit the diligent designer. “I much preferred being able to touch and see a piece before it left to make sure it was okay,” Lee says. “Then it became almost familial. Now I know everyone that works on everything. It’s all very present.”
The Central Saint Martins-educated designer’s personal approach works for her clientele. “The first people that understood the brand and the clothes were art world people,” Lee says. “They want clothes that don’t wear them. They have to look powerful, so that they can stand next to something really expensive and feel feminine and strong. But they don’t want to look like a fashion plate.”
Lee’s looks satisfy the sartorially ambitious and headstrong, with the likes of author Amy Fine Collins, actor Ruth Negga and model Karen Elson donning her pieces for moments when they need to feel creatively energized. The new Princess of Wales caused a sensation sporting an emerald-green Edeline Lee dress this past May. The endorsement came at an auspicious moment when Lee had just launched a boutique space at the British department store Harrods.
While her arrival at the venerable retailer certainly earns a spot on her 2022 highlight reel, Lee looks at every accolade her brand receives as evidence that she’s addressing what her customers – long-time and new – so deeply desire. “As a creative person – somebody who makes clothing for women and is in service to women – ‘How do I dress her and make her feel her best?’”
For more information, visit edelinelee.com.