Frederick Lee’s runway presentation at FIDé Fashion Week 2013 is one mind-blowing immersive experience that combines high fashion and superb storytelling. The collection’s story is about darkness and despair – “Death & Destruction” and right at the onset of the show, the classic movie line of “I see dead people” from Sixth Sense and loud sounds of door slamming were repeatedly broadcasted in disturbing frenetic frequency while the runway remains pitch black. An uneasy discomfort laced with anticipation hangs in the air, not unlike a horror movie.
With a bang, the show opened to the sound of sirens and the runway drenched in blood red floodlights. The opening garment comes down the runway – a long silk dress with a voluminous silhouette that billowed like a parachute paired with thigh-high latex boots, a feather bolero and an aviator cap. This is one extremely strong and dramatic opening.
This collection features various iterations of black – texture, opacity, texture, tonal, shade, surface quality – all of them ornately over the top. His expert use of luxurious materials – silks, satins, leather, tulles and organzas – are embellished with dramatic feathers in various forms, some of which are hand-painted and some delicately stitched. Pushing the envelope of feathers-in-fashion context as far as it can, Frederick Lee creates a couple of garments that appeared as though an entire taxidermied bird has been flattened and artfully placed onto the bodice. The feathers aren’t the only ones that intentionally look very rigid and stiff here.
As the saying goes “hard as nails”, there are also a couple of menacing pieces which have been entirely constructed of nails, the sharp thin spokes forming an incredibly mesmerizing metallic fur that shimmers and sways. Other metallic details are seen in the form of curvy appliques of sequins, crystals and beads, creating a magnificent tonal and textural spectrum against delicate tulle and satin in a monochromatic palette.
In the beauty/hair/makeup department, the styling is avant garde: the models wear a cap to tame and contain a burst of frizzy hair at the nape. Black nail polish complements the makeup that is impeccably on-theme: jet-black chunky eyebrows and eye makeup with exaggerated feather-like motif under the eyes plus very on-trend deep purple lipstick.
In the closing act we see a dark archangel with golden antlers and very large wings, gracefully sweeping down the runway in a sequined tulle gown with a fluffy feather train. A dramatic finale to an arresting show from beginning to end. Every piece in this cohesive collection oozes an exquisite mastery of fabric, unusual material manipulation, artful placement of design elements and elegant silhouettes all weaved into one exceptionally memorable couture story.
This is a haunting tale of supernatural Goth meets Edgar Allan Poe meets Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds meets Black Swan. The glamorous and drama-filled collection for FIDé Fashion Week 2013 is dark and sexy at the same time, while consistently maintaining the couturier’s signature exuberant and showy style.
Frederick Lee’s couture fashion-as-performance-art theatricality has made him one of Singapore’s most established fashion designers. The veteran designer, with 18 years of experience in fashion, is long renowned for creating gowns of ultimate extravagance. Flamboyant and outrageous elements have made this self-taught designer the most sought-after couturier in Singapore. His exquisite cutting edge creations are showstoppers and his sense of high drama is evident in each couture creation.
Runway and behind-the-scene photo credits: Superadrianme.com, LifestyleAsia, DeeniseGlitz, Daniel Boey.