Dyspnea is unconventional. It defies traditional Melbourne fashion in many ways – it’s loud, indulgent and completely impractical – but it works.

Rachel Motteram and Jameen Zalfen launched this fun label nearly three years ago. What started as a hobby (designing one-off party frocks for themselves and their mates) has led to the release of two stand-out collections and a loyal following from the fashion and social-media worlds.

Zalfen describes Dyspnea as: “A label for the go-get-it-girl … who loves to dress up and who is happy to stand out.” The designs are offbeat, but they empower the wearer with a strong sense of femininity. Each piece is uniquely intricate – fluff, sequins and lace feature heavily throughout the collections, and have become synonymous with the label.

“We design using a mix of textiles and fabrics,” Zalfen says, “to create something that will really wow people’s socks off.”

“Rach is big on textiles, so we try to source different fabrics and textiles from all over. We have no boundaries when it comes to the fabrics we use. If we find something we like – we go with it. Our entire Dyslexi-Cola range was developed from an old curtain.”

Like the clothes themselves, the girls’ design process is a little unconventional: “Rach has crazy dreams, and sometimes they become the inspiration for our collections,” Zalfen explains. “She had this dream where everything was all pink and red, so our Paralysis collection was then made using predominantly pink and red.”

The fluff-and-bother (to borrow a description from our mothers) label notes Ellery and Alexander McQueen as inspirational influences. “They don’t just think about the customer and selling the product. For them it is about the designs, and the process of coming up with something that is breathtaking and different,” says Zalfen

After a successful debut at Sydney Fashion Week this year, the girls are focusing on production, and on getting their quirky pieces to as many people as possible. After that, their sights are set on a showing at New York Fashion Week, and “one day, a shop-front in Sydney… hopefully!”

For now, see the designs evolve on Instagram at @dysnea_ and the Dyspnea website.