In only a few short years Dion Lee has made a name for himself as the wunderkid of Australian fashion. Shortly after graduating fashion college, the Sydney-based designer launched his eponymous label and has since gone from strength to strength, picking up a number of Australia’s most prestigious fashion awards along the way.
Lee is one of those rare designers who can channel high-minded creativity into garments that retains a sense of viability, and each collection further cements his name into industry history. His skill is accompanied by an already established consistency of aesthetic which has made his rise in the fashion world each season seem steady, whilst simultaneously meteoric.
With a talent for patternmaking combined with a hands-on approach to garment development, Lee impressed judges at the 2012/13 International Woolmark Prize Australia regional final. And with the likes of fashion designer Richard Nicoll, Vogue Australia Editor-in-Chief Edwina McCann, EVP of Global Communications at Calvin Klein Malcolm Carfrae, Lock Group CEO Simon Lock and David Jones womenswear buyer David Bush on the judging panel, this by no means was an easy feat.
It was Lee’s innovative experimenting with felt and the concept of interlocking fibres which captivated the judges and saw his design stand out from the rest.
“I’ve taken inspiration from the idea of felting and adapted that into some fabric bonding techniques in felt and other woven fabrics.”
Looking at Lee’s work, whether it’s his final submission for the IWP or his latest runway collection, there are a few standout consistencies which tie the Dion Lee brand together. Balance and contrast, cut and construction, technique and fabric – all play integral roles in the makeup of each garment.
“I think I’m most passionate about the process,” Dion Lee
“I think I’m most passionate about the process – starting with an idea that at one point might seem quite unreachable or far reaching and through the collaborative process I think that slowly that idea seems to come to life,” says Lee.
“Collections I think are always going to be a reaction to the previous collection – either in a positive or negative way. There might be ideas in that collection that felt unresolved or weren’t executed in the way you originally imagined them to be.”
For Lee, working with wool is something that has been engrained in each of his collections since he first burst onto Australia’s fashion stage.
“I really like working with wool because I think there are so many possibilities with its application. And what has been interesting about this (IWP) capsule has been really focussing on wool innovation more than anything else and doing something with wool that I feel is new.
“The Woolmark brand has always been a part of my brand in a way; I started working with Woolmark when I graduated. A big focus for the way I design is fabric development and they have been really such a strong resource in terms of what’s technically possible and also engaging us with suppliers and manufacturers that help us put it all into production.”