There is no doubt that Dion Lee is one of the most celebrated and awarded fashion designers to emerge from Australia in recent years. Since debuting at Australian Fashion Week in 2009, Lee has only gone from strength to strength, firmly putting his sartorial stamp on the radars of the world’s most fashion-savvy. Establishing a fixed aesthetic anchored in monochromes, geometrics and strong silhouettes, few would deny that Lee has set a benchmark for contemporary Australian and international fashion.
Fast becoming the Golden Boy of Australian fashion, Dion Lee is one of our most lauded designers to date. The originality in his technique and aesthetic has garnered Lee serious industry attention and a slew of accolades including the Prix de Marie Claire Award (2013) and the prestigious International Woolmark Prize (2013). Gracing the bodies of Hollywood’s finest; Dion Lee can count the likes of Miranda Kerr, Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett, Diane Kruger and Rita Ora as fans of his eponymous brand. And with the success of his Fall/Winter 2016 line at New York Fashion Week, deemed as his coming of age moment by American Vogue, this sartorial mastermind does not seem to be showing any signs of slowing down.
The fashion landscape is ever-evolving, and Lee’s cutting-edge designs are proof that he doesn’t intend to be left behind. In fact, his attention to detail and bold experimentation has put him right at the front of the pack. From sharp tailoring for the office to feminine drapes for after-dark affairs, Lee’s agility, innovation and creative genius have set him up as the darling of the contemporary Australian fashion scene. Never one to shy away from bright prints or arresting shapes, the designer’s garments are not hard to identify. His namesake label brings together the old and the new, tactically fusing traditional tailoring with modern architecture. Beneath the deceivingly simple tailoring is something far more complex and technical. The designer’s stripped-back silhouettes are understated, but at the same time the dramatically sculpted blazers and structured trench coats are stunning architectural masterpieces in their own right. Drawing inspiration from his urban surrounds and embracing his Australian heritage, Lee has pointed to the Sydney’s Opera House as an abiding influence. Experimenting with origami tailoring, cut-outs and textures, there are certainly elements that echo the sail-like design of the iconic construction throughout his collections.
Despite the architectural complexity of Lee’s garments, many of his collections feature pieces that are highly functional. This speaks to the appeal of Dion Lee not just to upmarket, high-street buyers, but also to the working woman. Lee continues to contribute to the power dressing movement with his sophisticated yet sensual laser-cut blazers and sleek signature cocktail dresses. Creating capsule collections for brands such as Cue and Target, and featuring shoes designed by Kanye West in his very own collections, Lee ingeniously fuses high-fashion with athletics-tinged pieces. A lot of lip service is given to effortless dressing, and Lee satisfies this demand with fashion that moves to the cadence of our busy lives. Lee draws on aspects of the quintessential athletic and carefree Australian lifestyle, giving birth to attire that is comfortable, practical and impeccably stylish. Clearly inspired by sports-luxe, his collections feature contrasting hues, neoprene and belted pieces.
While some designers take years to establish a distinctive aesthetic, Lee demonstrated a unique approach early on. Since shooting to the top of the fashion world, Dion Lee as a label has stuck to its early formula. Clearly driven by his interest in cut and construction, Lee is continually exploring and reinventing, demonstrating a dynamic consistency and sophistication rare in even the most seasoned designer. There are recurring themes like the striking geometric shapes, and layers of texture and patterns which have become synonymous with the designer. But with every collection, Lee takes these elements and continues to refine them, pushing the boundaries and re-inventing the wheel. You only have to look as far as his Fall ’16 collection. While structure has always featured heavily, there was always a lightness to the designer’s creations which gave them a sensual quality. But this season, there is no sign of this softness, with a more strippe-back and tailored silhouette taking its place. Rich colour palettes and playful textures continue to reverberate throughout. Headlined by voluminous pieces and sharper lines, there is more of an androgynous vibe this time around. At a more fundamental level, Lee’s dedication to crafting his own fabrics has ensured that every collection is different from the last. Not content with those made in large scale productions, he focuses on incorporating experimentally conceived fabrics developed in-house, like the embellished fabrics and wool felts seen in his Fall range. It is perhaps this aesthetic and originality in his technique which has set Dion Lee apart from his peers. He has quickly surpassed his Australian and global peers in both creativity and presentations to establish a benchmark for contemporary fashion. His courage in experimenting with textiles and silhouettes, and his constant pushing of the fashion envelope make him a true artist, an innovator. The Golden Boy of Australian Fashion is now a global force to be reckoned with. www.dionlee.com