The brand taking the girls, gays, and theys by a chokehold one sequin at a time.
I am a die-hard fan of Dyspnea, always have, and always will be. Since their inception in 2013, Jameen Zalfen and Rachel Motteram founded Dyspnea on the garage floor of Rachel's basement. Since then, they have created an army of Dyspets focused on creating trademark maximalist sequin-dripping outfits inspired by the Y2K aesthetic to take one’s breath away. And oh boy it has grown.
When I heard that they were holding a runway show at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week (AAFW) this year, I honestly fell off my chair. This would mark five years since their last show in 2017. It was full of pussy power, pom-poms, and pastel pink and I was super envious I wouldn't get to attend. Nonetheless, the opportunity arose and I took it.
Walking into Dysneyworld felt like a fairy tale of magenta pink, with one single big ass chandelier in the center on the runway, it was characteristically Dyspnea. Before the show began, we were Welcomed to Country. This brief ceremony featured a humbling solo performance welcoming guests and highlighting the traditional owners of the land past, present, and emerging.
The lights dimmed and the catwalk lit up as a violinist came to the stage. A single spotlight shined on her extraordinary sequinned Dyspnea outfit, as she began to play. Immediately the audience was teleported into the set of Bridgerton with classical music progressively being intertwined into a contemporary house.
Dyspnea has always focused on creating sequin-spangled garments, inclusive to everyone. Their actions spoke louder than words, with their models being represented by a wide variety of ages, sizes, genders, capabilities, and colours. This inclusive mindset has allowed their consumers to feel like the best person possible and experiment with personal style in a safe non-judgement zone.
It comes with no surprise that maximalist fashion is having a moment after 2 years of trackies, jumpers, and socks, that people want the opportunity to dress up and be loud in their appearance. The Drag Queen Scene has played a prominent point of inspiration for the brand and this was reflected in the styles featured on the runway. It was Bridgerton meets Pricilla Queen of the Desert, with a harmonious mix of regency and scandal. Lavish fuchsia, lavender, turquoise, orange, and the hottest pink you have ever seen, swept the runway and of course, were dripping in sequins.
This runway show was not your traditional sit, observe and leave kind of show, it was more than that. It felt like a community, a brand that is rooting for you, and the uproar of applause proved that. It has been a privilege to witness how far they have come as a brand, from the basement to the runway. I can't wait to see their successes in the next 10 years!
Written by Rhiannon Hodgson