In a deserved, albeit slightly predictable, victory, Dion Lee has taken out the Australian Woolmark Prize award. The award was presented at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art on Monday night, earning Lee a sizeable $50,000 for excellence using Australian merino wool and a spot in the International Woolmark Prize competition to be judged next Feburary.
Since launching his brand in 2008, Dion Lee has emerged as Australia’s most exciting rising talent. Known for his unconventional yet exquisite use of precision tailoring, he has garnered lavish praise from the likes of Tim Blacks for his seasonal collections presented at London Fashion Week as well as being responsible for two of the most desired labels on the local market. Line II by Dion Lee is the diffusion capsule further honing in on the designer’s shirting and tailoring prowess. His winning piece for Woolmark was a tailored grey dress with spine-like rubber film down the back and softer black blended wool sleeves.
Clearly these accolades mean Dion Lee provided the other five Australian finalists — Kym Ellery, Christopher Esber, Magdalena Velevska, Carl Kapp and Song for the Mute — with competition stiffer than a lapel fused with three layers of interfacing. Dion Lee is a brand that doesn’t just have design chops but has a huge international potential. On why they selected the designer, Vogue Australia editor-in-chief Edwina McCann said, “The judges had to consider who was best placed in terms of the development of their business and creative skills to represent Australia in the final round of competition in London in February 2013.”
It’s great that Australia has such a marketable export, but it also means that less internationally successful young talents such as Christopher Esber, who McCann praised for his innovation and astonishing creativity, probably never stood a real chance.
In February, Lee will go up against Sophie Theallet (US), Christian Wijnats (Europe), Ban Xiao Xue (China), and a yet-to-be-announced designer from India, competing for a $100,000 prize and the opportunity to have his brand stocked in some of the world’s top department stores.
Image via Vogue.com.au