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3 August 2011

So the weeks of waiting is over.  Finally, the much anticipated evening gown design has been revealed amd everyone can breathe a sign of relief.

 It’s not hideous.

 It’s not pedestrian.

 In fact, it’s amazing.

Weeks of speculation, rumors and false leads have culminated in a reveal that is awe-inspiring, somewhat controversial but definitely gasp-worthy.

As Scherri-Lee Biggs, our representative to the Miss Universe pageant in Brazil came out in her evening gown, jaws dropped and women clutched their pearls.  Dressed head to toe in crystal encrusted nude translucent tulle, Scherri-Lee looked as if she was clothed in a crystal mist.

Pageant fanatics from all over the world flooded the pageant message boards full of praise for Sylvia’s design.  Over all, Sylvia gets a thumbs up.

But what do we know about Sylvia Lee?  Not much.  Yet.

It’s not every day that you meet a person like Sylvia.  A walking paradox, it’s hard for me to come to terms that this talented young designer came from a background of software engineering.  Looking at her whimsical, romantic and strangely twisted silhouettes and fabric combinations you would think that this young woman filled her waking hours with fairytales and cotton candy – not books on formulas and codes.

I have known Sylvia for quite some time now.  We first made contact in early May 2010 at the launch of the Miss Universe Australia competition.  She kindly offered her creations for those girls that needed a hand with their dresses, directing me to her Facebook site (how very generation Y!) www.facebook.com/sylvialeedesigns.

Beyond the whimsical look flows an under current of strength and structure, with a boldness and bravado in mixing fabrics and colors that is both unconventional but inspired. In her I found a kindred spirit when it came to matters of fashion and glamour.  Imagine my joy when Sylvia was selected to be the designer of choice for Miss Universe Australia’s evening gown in 2011.

Born in South Korea but raised in Australia, Sylvia did not receive much familial support for her fashion obsession.

”Having my parents strongly disapprove of me undertaking fashion studies after high school, I studied software engineering at the University of NSW and managed to finish my degree and work in the industry. I felt eternally unfulfilled”.

So she played the role of dutiful daughter until a friend convinced her to enroll in a course at the prestigious Fashion Design Studio (formerly known as East Sydney TAFE). 

Under the guidance and tutelage of the great Nicholas Huxley, Sylvia stretched the limits of her creativity while getting practical experience with masters such as Giorgio Armani, Akira Isogawa and Fleur Wood. 

“I worked for Mr Armani for two years.  I have had the honour of meeting him and listening to him talk to and advise me in Italian, with his translator beside him translating his very words.  It was truly an experience”.

She has since won numerous industry awards – notably the 2009 Flair Awards Designer of the Year and 2010 Styled Awards Designer of the Year.  Such accolades confirmed that it was time for Sylvia to launch her own label.

Currently a bridal couture designer, Sylvia’s collections are inspired by period costume, art and music with juxtapositioning and stark constant feature. 

Five laborious weeks of sweat, blood and tears Sylvia has come up with two gala dresses that is designed to stop anyone in their tracks.

The preliminary dress is an ice blue silk satin gown which is beaded along the bust line with a cascading glittering train.  The hemline reflects the new length popular now on the red carpets.  While I myself am not a fan of this hem line length Sylvia manages to execute it with panache.

Her inspiration for this dress comes from the shape of the tulip.  From this she has created a silhouette that embraces Scherri-Lee’s womanly curves.   Scherrie-Lee will be wearing either in the preliminary competition, where the top 15 are selected by a different panel of judges, or in one of the pre-finals events.

The main dress however, which Scherri-Lee will wear to the evening gown finals on the night and what was revealed to us on Wednesday at the Sofitel Melbourne, is what truly takes my breath away.  It is, in my humble opinion, the sexiest and most glamorous evening gown a Miss Universe Australia has worn since Jennifer Hawkins in 2004.  Strangely enough, this gown shares some similarities to the Bora Couture gown Jennifer wore in Ecuador. 

The gold bustierre is made from pale gold brocade and stretch silk satin.  It is then over-laid with four layers of nude beige tulle encrusted with Swarovski crystals and and silver lace. Elegant, sexy and age appropriate.  The dress is fitted perfectly to show off Scherri-Lee’s curves in a mermaid silhouette that cascades into a cloud of tulle.  The translucent fabric gives a peek-a-boo effect to her legs, but subtle enough not to make it vulgar. My prediction is that debutantes and brides all around Australia will soon be emulating this style.

“Couture is about custom design.  Custom made and lots of hand work. I love it because it gives me the freedom to be more creative, break boundaries, be more unique and special and more extravagant.”

Expect our representative to make waves in Brazil with this gown.

According to Scherri-Lee, who couldn’t be happier, “If I saw this on the rack (and you wouldn’t) this is the kind I would go for.  Maybe I will wear this for my wedding!”

The hand of the designer is felt and seen in every piece and THAT is what makes high fashion. 

Strength in self reinforced by knowing one’s own identity is Sylvia Lee.  A dedicated and proud couturier, her passion drives her to go harder and to prove that you can only turn your back on your passions and dreams for so long – it eventually catches up!  With plans to open an online boutique soon, remember the name.ImageImageImage

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