It’s a constant source of scrutiny, particularly if you happen to be a woman, and a bloody hard thing to get right. The problem with a work/life balance after all, is the instinctive suggestion that there is a trade off between the two; an automatic assumption that one must fall upon its own sword in order for the other to succeed. In short, a woman can never truly have it all. Or at least that’s what everyone used to - or rather, was made to - think.
For Edeline Lee, the time has come to recognise a new kind of femininity: that of the self-coined “Future Lady”. Modern, independent and harnessing a power like never before, her identity is no longer portrayed as a binary this or that but as a multifaceted whole - something that Lee is keen to explore in depth for her Autumn/Winter 2017 collection.
Inspired by the work of collage artist Hannah Hoch, Lee placed the concept of layering at the forefront of our minds. Who says you can’t have everything? This new woman blurs boundaries in every aspect of her life; both at work
and play. With a backdrop of brick and coloured shapes, designed by artist Kyung Roh Bannwart, as well as sound and vision enforced through screens and live performance, Hoch’s collage identity was brought to life. And so was the 3D identity of the Future Lady.
So what of the collection itself? Much like the woman who wears it, these are clothes that don’t just stay in their lane. Knee-nipping dresses cinched at the waist, alongside the swagger of slouched suiting, should indicate this is a collection of out-and-out seriouswear. But throw into the mix a combination of hiked hemlines, swapped shoes and intense bursts of yolk, aqua, cobalt and red, and you’re got yourself the sartorial equivalent of photocopying your privates at the office party.
It’s professional and it’s tailored, but it’s unexpected and fun. It’s Monday morning meetings, but it’s Friday night, weekends away and that time off you accidentally saved up and need to take before the end of March. It’s both Miranda and Carrie at the same time. The AW17 Edeline Lee woman is a modern one, with a modern lifestyle that requires a modern wardrobe to go with it.
Recognising the duality of her lifestyle is key and its something Edeline does so effortlessly. Box-fit suits, boasting large lapels and oversized cropped trousers, ooze with masculine bravado, but are counteracted with the exaggerated femininity of frills and new romantic trumpet sleeves. Sleeves, as its happens, are a real talking point across signature blouses, making the most striking contrast when paired with rigid pencil skirts carved with structured layers.
Dresses do their best to both conceal and reveal: colour block midis don’t so much free the nipple but directly draw the gaze towards it with wide-eyed spheres and embossed fabric buttons. It’s brilliantly close to the mark without ever stepping over it. Strong yet flamboyant; structured yet fluid, this a collection that celebrates work and play, seriousness and not so seriousness, in equal measure.
With Lee's ability to recognise the need for flexibility, I’d say the Future Lady has got her work/life balance just as she likes it.