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Timeless mutation

Hector Maclean’s ‘Orlando in opulence’ reflects fluidity in design and literature


Linking a literary classic with modern fashion was an unexpected twist out of London-based designer Hector Maclean. The up-and-coming creative was recently presenting Orlando in Opulence, his new Spring/Summer 24 collection at London Fashion Week, in the beautiful venue of St Paul’s Church. The name of the collection takes inspiration from Virginia Woolf’s Orlando: A Biography.


 Hector Maclean SS24 LFW Show

Sponsored by Gothic GinEcofetes • Beauty by AD • One Skin • FFØR The Perfumers Story

Backstage management Cat Bramley

Photography Lauren Cremer

Key makeup artist Jo Sugar using One Skin and Beauty by ADEOLA DIIADEM

 Key Hairdresser Timothy Furssedonn using FFØR

Styling Rickardo (Rosé) Mattocks-Maxwell

PR Natalia Cassel

Jewellery from The Rock Hound
Perfume from The Perfumers Story
Sculptures by Matthew Beck

In colaboration with Drawing Cabaret Couture (DCC Studios)
Featuring Millie Payne Deb vanderG • Tanvi Nayak

Words by Rodrigo Melo

Special thanks to Kelly Bernardo and to Michaela Doyle.


Virginia Woolf’s work of fiction, published in 1928, is timeless: the topics discussed in the book are debated even today. ‘Orlando’ dives into themes such as gender fluidity and identity, renewal and rejuvenation without limits, the path of the artist, as well as the artform. This bears a heavier meaning knowing that the book is set in Edwardian and Victorian times, which in turn exposes the wisdom of the author, just like the importance of the literature.

The tale takes us through Orlando’s upbringing and love life in Victorian and Edwardian England, where he joins the royal court and indulges in a bohemian dandyesque  lifestyle. Only Orlando wakes up one morning to find he turned into a woman during his sleep. From this point onwards, the narrative debate regarding the difference in sexes, as well as its fluidity, commences. The tale serves as a beacon for feminine empowerment, especially regarding the time frame it’s set in.

Hector McLean´s collection ‘Orlando in opulence’ embodies its concept with a diverse range of elegant garments, colours, shapes and genderless ensembles. Each look´s strong historical silhouette is mirroring Orlandos travels through time. The materials used for the garments are entirely upcycled deadstock  – synthetic materials, polyester and blended fibres were disregarded to ensure that the collection is fully recyclable. Hector takes us on a journey through time with repurposed fabrics and empowered forms of hyper-feminine silhouettes that complement strong masculine tailored forms. Most of the fabrics were donated, some of them new, some of them decades old.

‘Orlando: A Biography’ spans over the period of 300 years (1588-1928) and details the story of Orlando, an aspiring poet and young noble from England. The story is inspired by the life of Vita Sackville-West, Woolf’s romantic interest and close friend. Vita was an acclaimed writer, crossdresser and openly bisexual, which marked her as one of the most significant feminist figures of the Victorian era leading into modern times.

Hector’s origins span of the Isle of Mull, Zimbabwe, France, and Poland, this diverse background significantly shaped his creative path. He designs in a manner that prioritizes ethics and sustainability, focusing on recyclable materials and thoughtful production methods. Hector’s work aims to empower people by embracing imperfections and highlighting both feminine and masculine qualities in a gender-neutral way. His fashion line embodies the intersection of tradition and innovation, striking a subtle balance between heritage and contemporary influences.

With this collection, I really wanted to play with this notion of metamorphosis, which we witness in Wolfe’s protagonist Orlando, who experiences a gender transformation. I’ve tried to transplant this idea of shifting ideals of beauty into the collection, showing how textile byproducts destined for waste, actually have an inherent beauty in them when viewed in a different way. Beauty doesn’t need to come from something perfect – its genesis can be quite broken. I want the show to be a celebration of fabrics reborn, as well as a celebration of the broad spectrum of gender and the many nuances of personal expression contained within,

Hector explains.


American born, London based photographer Lauren Cremer,  captured Hector´s show for ZOOT backstage and front in the impressive venue of St Paul’s church, an Anglican Christian church in the heart of London’s Covent Garden which was consecrated in 1638.


Hector putting up his banner in front of t the entrance of St. Paul´s church.



Beautiful Mariama Hadi at FIRST Model Management waiting in the backstage area, you might recognize her from ourInfinity reflections” editorial.





Leading makeup artist Jo Sugar at work.


Jo worked with multi-awarded UK-brand OneSkin to prepare the skin of the models and with Nigerian brand Beauty by AD for makeup.


Two illustrators, Tanvi Nayak and  Millie Payne,  of the Drawing Cabaret Couture (DCC Studios) course.


The show featured a collaboration with the Drawing Cabaret Couture – aka DCC studios – an East London-based collective that specialises in high fashion films & editorials. For the Hector Maclean show, fashion illustrators were present backstage depicting live illustrations of the event and the production process.


Leading hairstylist Tim Furssedonn at work.




Reverend Simon Grigg was appointed Rector of St. Paul’s in May 2006.


One of the two black church cats, Eliza or Mrs Higgins.



Illustration by Tanvi Nayak.



Illustration by Tanvi Nayak.


Illustration by Deb vanderG.


Illustration by Tanvi Nayak.


Illustration by Deb vanderG.



Illustration by Deb vanderG.



Illustration by Deb vanderG.




Illustration by Louise Boughton.


The puffy styling of the dresses and sleeves, combines modern-day elegance with the typical Victorian era look, while the upcycled pieces display a chaotic symmetry with diverse shapes and formats that balance an unfinished with a finished aesthetic. Hector was able to modernise the Victorian voluminous skirts, crinolines, slim waisted corsets, as well as petticoats, this way realistically recreating the eccentric ecclectic style of the era.

The collection’s colour palette exhibits a soft approach to tones and colours, with hints of extravaganza. This choice of palette was eloquently complemented by the makeup art, which combined flashy and serene tones that highlight the duality behind the concept of the show. Leading makup artist Jo Sugar and hairstylist Tim Furssedonn were taken inspiration from Orlando creating a romantic, soft and beautiful look, feminising the male and maskulinising the female models. “The hairstyles are  a collision of Victorian and Edwardian, outlined with modern textures, to reflects the shapes and movement within the clothing, ” Tim explains.

The garments empower the inclusivity of the designs, as can be seen in the linear hyper-feminine silhouettes that are complemented by strong masculine tailored forms.


Hector on look 1: @yarimah.x in our something borrowed dress. Made from 4 other brides dresses recycled fabrics. Also reffering to scraps of our life we take into marriage. That we are all have lots of messy scraps from our life but in the end we are a kind of beautiful mess.


Hector on look 2: Modelled by the wonderful @rahe6m with @models1. Our soft top of dutches satin and stride trousers made to feminise the male form in a beautiful and elegant way.


Hector on look 3: Modelled by @nyxcin in our beaded bando and gloves with our rose train skirt. Knitwear made by @alexecox.


Hector on look 4: Modelled by @georgia_bronte wearing out edwardian coat and our stripe train trousers.


Hector on look 5: Modelled by @_morgancharles wearing our elyps dress.


Hector look 6: Modelled by @harrietsholli in our handkerchief top and our embroidered bell trousers.


Hector on look 7: modelled by @rosebudswhile wearing our madam jacket and tussle skirt.


Hector on look 8: Modelled by @charlotte.moloney in our lily top and elizabethan skirt.


Hector on look 9: Modelled by @seth_babela in our tip raw top and chandelier skirt.


Hector on look 10: Modelled by @_maria.aio in our fringe rose dress.


Hector on look 11: Modelled by @yarimah.x.























The designer Hector Maclean at the finale.




Hector Maclean’s genderless fashion showcases an organic, circular and fluid process of design, as well as an imperative to be bold, yet timeless. ‘Orlando in opulence’ can serve as inspiration for aspiring designers hoping to step out of the industry’s framework.





Edited by Michaela Doyle.

To boot…

Check out more from fashion designer Hector Maclean in our “Infinity reflections” shoot.



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