Sugary sweet and outrageous
Jaime Lee Major is one of Perth’s most commercially successful designers. Since showing, first collection her eponymous label at the Perth Fashion Festival in 2010, she has become a household name. After being asked to dress singer Kimbra for the 2013 Grammy’s, Major began to crack the lucrative U.S market, and now dresses the likes of Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. With her most recent collection, displayed in front of an adoring home crowd at the 2015 Telstra Perth Fashion Festival, Major starts to explore ready-to-wear. Like the outfits of the pop stars she now dresses, Major’s ‘Lightyears’ collection is sugary sweet and outrageous.
The enormous glittery unicorns and rainbow arches waiting at the end of the runway, under which candy colour models flirted with the lenses in the press pit, should have been a dead giveaway- this collection isn’t for the faint of heart.
As AQUA’s Barbie Girl blared, Major sent her troops down the catwalk in what seemed like a series of individual five piece collections. There were the gold sequinned streetwear girls, toting matching backpacks and caps, the girls in pastel puffs of tulle and fur, replete with feather and sequin detailing, and the psychedelic tie dye girls.
The neon lights of Tokyo were a catalyst for Major’s concept development, with a nod to the Japanese capital in the footage, utilised as the backdrop of the runway. A blur of robot cafes, laser beams and the infamous Shibuya Crossing flicked across the screen, adding to the sensory overload of the show.
Intricate floral embroidery, random smatterings of sequins and sparse feathers are signature moves in Major’s book, which she’s honed since graduating from Perth’s Central Institute of Technology in 2009.
The opulence that Jaime Lee is now famous for seamlessly translates between styles. Whether it takes the shape of sheer floor length evening wear, cutesie mini dresses or oversized blazers with shoulder pads stuffed full of 80s glam, the collection is both extravagant and cheeky.
Working with contrasting characteristics seems to be integral to Major’s work. The way in which a garment can be completely covered and yet entirely sheer, for example, is both baffling and mesmerising. It’s not the basic structure of her garments that make Jaime Lee Major stand out; they’re quite traditional and commercially viable once you look past their near-blinding dazzle. What makes Major a standout is the attention to details, not just within the garments, but within the collection as a whole.
When asked what it means to be a Perth designer, Major sites a desire to be noticed as a push to succeed.
“Being from Perth has really impacted the way that I work. There’s a lot of amazing people in Perth and I think because we feel a bit isolated out here, so we have to put ourselves out there a bit more to get ourselves noticed. Maybe that isolation is a good thing.”
No rhinestone is left unturned in ‘Lightyears’, but rather turned and glued on to every available surface. According to Major, the entire process took six months, as props and lighting had to be specially made.
This collection revels in the kitsch, sickly sweet and tongue in cheek. For a city like Perth which generally produces beach ready, relaxed ready-to-wear rather than demi couture- Jaime Lee stands out. Her style is fresh- a sugar rush through the city’s blood stream, if you will.
All images courtesy of STEFAN GOSATTI