Dion Lee might just be responsible for changing the landscape of Australian fashion. His daringly futuristic designs render him incongruous with words like ‘floaty’ and ‘feminine’ that are often thought to be an intrinsic part of local design’s DNA. They’ve also made Lee our most valuable export, both financially and in terms of things to brag about at happy hour.
Accordingly, Dion Lee’s New York Fashion Week debut last week was probably watched with a sort of nervous smugness on the part of most Australians present. Just how awesome would New York find our beloved fashion wunderkind? How thrilled would they be to shake his hand and offer him a seat at the already crowded table of local talent?
Perhaps as a way of making himself more approachable (Lee’s experimental approach to textiles and silhouettes can often mark him as an outsider), the designer’s collection was relatively pared back for a show that began with a laser light performance.
The first looks were monochromatic – sleek trousers and pencil skirts paired with tailored blazers and leather bustiers. But after that quick introduction, he ventured into a sci-fi cross-hatching pattern and clothes that were more like wearable art. The emphasis still, though, being on ‘wearable.’ The most impressive were tops made from strips of fabric that snaked bondage-like around the model’s body and neck, and a skirt that fused panels of the neoprene (there’s that glamourised wetsuit fabric again) backing. Gauzy fabrics kept things well clear of Blade Runner territory.
First impressions count at fashion week, and Dion Lee could hardly have made a better one. Australia is probably justified in feeling a little smug.
Image: Dion Lee's Facebook