Lee Mathews blends practicality and whimsy in her work, but for pre-fall, she has walked firmly into the land of fantasy—and the collection is better for it. Inspired by the Bloomsbury Group and the rich, artful interiors and wild gardens of Charleston House, Mathews has incorporated graphic floral prints, oversize crisp white collars, and some of her pooffiest sleeves yet. Sure, the cargo trousers and boyish trenches her shoppers might be accustomed to are taking a backseat to a selection of delightful frocks, but as Mathews explained over a video call from her Sydney studio, who doesn’t want a bit of escapism, of fashion fantasy, and of dressing up right now?
Imagining her woman on the other side of the world in rural England gave Mathews the freedom to experiment—but it’s having excellent results in her local Oz too. Because of the pandemic, she has cut back on her wholesale accounts globally, refocusing on business in Australia. Mathews’s knits, in a chunky cotton yarn, have become popular and her sunny dresses pop up on sidewalks from Melbourne to Byron Bay. The country’s Blue Mountains might be next. The lookbook was shot in what the designer claims must be a haunted house in the mountain range. Spookiness aside, the spirits clearly agree with this turn in Mathews’s aesthetic.