It was all "a bit of a lark" to start with. Melbourne Creative Director Philip Boon cobbled a new outfit out of his wardrobe every day during the 2020-2021 lockdowns, shot a short, goofy selfie video precisely as the best natural light flooded into his tiny Windsor apartment, then posted it on social media.
The Daily Boon was meant to be, "just a funny little lockdown project" he says, a gag a day in the dead-pan style of old-time comedians such as Frank Thring or Kenny Everett. An outfit a day in the style of vintage fashion aficionado Philip Boon. But, almost three years later, the series still resonates among legions of fashion lovers who took it like a happy pill every day that helped them through a low point.
"People still come up to me and say beautiful things," Philip says. "Like; 'Thanks, I needed that, it made me smile when I was really down'. And I know that sounds very dramatic but that's the way it was; a nice thing that came out of terrible times."
A nice, fashion-affiliated thing in fact, that also fit like jigsaw into the 2023 PayPal Melbourne Fashion Festival's Fashion Culture program, a program stream curated to explore connections between clothes, art and other creative disciplines and ideas.
Philip was persuaded to revive The Daily Boon for an exhibition at LCI in Collingwood and after cherry-picking 60-odd images to show, found his "bit of a lark" is actually loaded with lessons and meanings far more complicated than its initial modus operandi to cheer us all up.
"Like, it's amazing what you can create from very limited resources," he says, "The imagery, that little bit of dreaming, something that touches people."
He's included a floor plan of his small apartment to prove just how limited those resources were. "I didn't even have lights, actually had to wait for the light to hit the building across from my place and bounce back into my flat at a certain time of day...I remember being so excited to be able to go to Kmart at one stage to buy just a tripod."
Every day he styled a strikingly different outfit, embellished every shot and take with props to hand: curtains, furniture, a shop mannequin from his vintage sales business, sheets, towels, whatever.
"I've included a section ‘behind the scenes’ in the exhibition where you can see how it all happened," Philip says. "My ironing board with the BluTak stuck on it, me on my knees... it's all terribly glamorous - not."
Expedience and creativity, he discovered as lockdown went on, blossomed equally in adversity. "At the time it was like, we're all going to hell but; 'now I have to be creative - what do I do?' It's like that thing (designer) Jenny Bannister always says: "shop your own wardrobe" when you need something new. So that's it; I have to create something new from what I already have."
There are also lessons in The Daily Boon exhibition around the subtle ways we construct our identity with fashion every day and how fashion, lightly expressed, can connect people in its sharing, even build something of a community.
"You really notice aspects of your individuality plus the pure vanity and ego as you're creating," says Philip of his creative process. "It was me being silly, in very brightly coloured clothes, but I think when you make yourself the butt of the joke, it also tends to be endearing and people respond to that...it brings people together in a way."
Philip edited the hundreds of messages of appreciation and support he received during The Daily Boon into a few he'll share at the exhibition to prove this galvanising truth about fashion.
He also hopes, he says, it will trigger a few new laughs. "That's my hook, because fashion is taken so seriously...I wanted to make a little fun of that, and of myself."
The Daily Boon is a free exhibition including 60 images and a video installation at LCI, 150 Oxford Street Collingwood from March 1 to 5, 9 am to 5 pm daily as part of the 2023 Paypal Melbourne Fashion Festival.