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DYSPNEA Rachel Motteram

Dyspnea-©TomdePeyret-009Looking for the perfect party ensemble to bedazzle a crowd? Want to invest in a show-stopping piece from an up and coming label? Sounds like you should check out the divinely fresh offerings from Dyspnea, Commonwealth Bank Designer For Tomorrow winners at the 2015 West Australian Fashion Awards. They’ve been catching the eye of fashion followers for the last few years. From the excitement their designs are generating, the spotlight is only going to get bigger.

“Our aesthetic runs around the meaning ‘shortness of breath’ – Dyspnea,” says Rachel Motteram, one half of the duo behind the label, along with co-designer Jameen Zalfen. The pair showed their initial collection at the Perth Fashion Festival in 2013. Since then it’s been more of a shooting-for-the-stratosphere kind of progression than a slow burn. “The label took off itself and we’ve just hung on for the ride,” says Motteram. “We’ve experienced and learnt a lot building our own business from scratch.”

Dyspnea’s pretty but bold, eye-catching fashion concoctions project an intoxicating signature fusion of delicacy and strength: primarily complex offerings (although there are some sleek, striking numbers in the mix) with touches of fluffy feather detailing and other textural features that combine with beautiful fabrics and well-cut designs to create unique and unusual pieces. They don’t so much stand out from the crowd as leap. Or skip. Often while sparkling and shimmering like a constellation gone rogue.

When asked whom the designs would appeal to, Motteram replies, “The party chica and the show stopper.” The bright and wild pieces make one wonder if they’re a reflection of personal style, or do the designs come from a different place? “The colour comes from what goes on inside our brains. On the outside we are a denim jeans and tee girl, but on the inside our imagination runs wild.”  With pastel designs reminiscent of fashion and confection fusions, as well as past reference to Paris Hilton’s pet as inspiration, there’s a definite sense of fun to Dyspnea’s brand of sass-infused glamour.

The duo met at TAFE four years ago and kickstarted their design partnership from there. In terms of future plans, Motteram says “Jameen and I would eventually like to open our own boutique and showcase a collection at New York Fashion Week.” They seem to be on track to achieving their goals; the lookbook for the Paralysis collection was shot in Paris by Tom De Peyret and featured model Garance Rochoux-Moreau.

Obviously, fashion this resplendent makes for fabulous runway fare (Not to mention red carpet, with a number of Dyspnea designs scattered through the 2014 ARIA Awards). Their favourite runway show so far, according to Motteram, was Sydney Fashion Week 2015 (Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia 2015), hands down. “It was one of the wildest rides of our life. A fairytale we didn’t want to end.”

At present, the duo is divided between Perth and Sydney. “A lot of our business and customers come from Sydney but we jump between the two cities. Perth will always be home.”

You can check out their designs at or Nasty Gal.


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