Skip to main content

If you were one of the local office workers taking an afternoon stroll along Piccadilly today, you may have noticed something out of the ordinary. Under the grand eaves of the covered shopping thoroughfare Burlington Arcade, attendants dressed in head-to-toe black were handing out copies of The Edeline Lee Times. If that faux Fleet Street title sounds unfamiliar, that’s because it wasn’t a newspaper at all; or rather, it was a mockup made by designer Edeline Lee to introduce her immersive presentation, which took place along the high-end boutiques of the arcade, and around the art world hub of Cork Street. (It also came at the end of a week of high theatrics in London this season, from Florence Pugh at Harris Reed and Sir Ian McKellen at S.S. Daley, to Richard Quinn’s crawling BDSM cats, and Di Petsa’s sage-burning rituals.)

Given Lee’s multitude of cultural interests—she noted that the process of essentially taking over a whole block of central London was smoothed by her preexisting relationships with some of the galleries, and past show collaborators including writer-comedian Sharon Horgan and London theater titan Josie Rourke—today’s event, directed by Zeina Durra, marked a return to her preferred method of showing. Still, as Lee notes, she’s never done anything quite on this scale before. “Everyone I’ve spoken to has said it’s cheered them up,” said Lee, laughing. “Which is exactly what I hoped for.”

If her objective was to bring a little mirth to an uncharacteristically sunny February afternoon in London, she certainly achieved it. Her own guest list mingled happily with curious members of the public, who gathered to watch the City of London School children’s choir sing an arrangement of a Chopin Mazurka in the shadow of the Royal Academy of Arts. (The melody was echoed by everyone from jazz musicians leaning out of the windows of the arcade, to flautists playing on the street, to a concert pianist tinkling ivories in a vacant gallery space.) Elsewhere, a model in a refined woolen trench coat dyed a rich, deep green handed out bushels of daisies and dahlias; others wrangled Dalmatians, leaned against a lamppost reading Virginia Woolf, stacked shopping bags into a vintage Mercedes, or sat on a throne-like chair to have their shoes shined—a cozily nostalgic vision of how a glamorous Londoner might live.

Which brings us to the clothes: diverting as the spectacle surrounding Lee’s collection may be, her staples were firmly grounded in the practical, just with a few more ruffles to match the grandiose trappings of the setting. Adding another layer to her typically sleeker silhouettes with puff details that topped and tailed dresses in rich jewel tones, she also leaned into some uncharacteristically bracing hues, including a highlighter yellow-green and a highly-saturated baby blue. The latter shade was worn by a model wandering under the portico of the Royal Academy in a ravishingly opulent caped gown with a fishtail bottom that looked like it had a real heft until you lifted it, revealing it was made from Lee’s signature feather-light flou bubble jacquard.

Lee’s well-honed wardrobe staples have a loyal audience for a reason. Behind the refined elegance of her coats and dresses lies impressive technical know-how and attention to detail—the kind you can only achieve when you produce your clothes in-house and are able to quality check every last hand-wrapped button yourself. Still, it was fun to see her turn up the dial on the drama this time around. “It’s bringing to life how I want my women to feel when they put on one of our dresses,” she added. “Sometimes fashion can go in darker directions, but what I love is when a woman can walk out feeling wonderful and beautiful and happy and warm—it’s one of my reasons for doing this. That’s what I really enjoy about being a designer.” If slipping into Lee’s clothes feels like a sunny afternoon in Mayfair with a children’s choir singing around you, no wonder her customers keep on coming back.