Inside the mind of a master.

Words by

Naomi Hatton

After blazing onto the scene in 2008, Australian-grown Dion Lee has well and truly cemented his status in the upper echelons of the global fashion industry.

His designs, recognisable even to the most sartorially challenged, bring authenticity back to construction through his focus on quality craftsmanship. Praised by US Vogue earlier in the year, Dion Lee may be the only person to ever make Anna Wintour crack a smile, ever.

Dion is undoubtedly in a league of his own. Earlier this week, as he prepared for his upcoming NYFW show, we earned a glimpse into the mind of a fashion icon just days before his new collection (pictured) drops.

Your Fall Ready-To-Wear collection earlier in the year pretty much made US Vogue (which means everyone), drop to the floor with praise. Do you feel any pressure in having to maintain such a high level of design and craftsmanship following a widely accepted and successful NYFW show?

I try not to focus on all of the external pressures but I’m always challenging myself to push the boundaries of innovation. Regardless of reviews, at the end of the day I want to create collections that resonate with myself and our customers.

How are you feeling about this upcoming collection? What were your creative goals when developing the designs?

I’m really excited, everything feels like a first this season. It’s the first collection we’re showing since relocating the design studio to New York. We’re showing in new venue Pier 59 and have a new creative team on board: Make-up director Hannah Murray for M.A.C. and hair director Tamas Tuzes for L’Atelier.

Creatively, I was drawn to the idea of generating movement with textiles, influenced by the kinetic artworks of Günther Uecker and Heinz Mack.

Sounds exciting! Can you sum up your collection in one sentence?

Spring 2017 is inspired by kinetic art, creating movement and textures by overlapping textiles of various transparencies.

At what stage will everything for the NYFW show be finished? Do you get any R&R?

There’s been a lot going on this season with moving our design studio to New York, so I think everything will come together at the last minute! R&R will be much needed afterwards, as per usual after a show.

Do you have any rituals or superstitions pre-show?

We’re usually too busy right before the show for any rituals! I might read my horoscope morning of…

It seems like there’s no need. Your designs seem to get better and better each reveal! Do you have a personal favourite from the collections that have graced the runway in previous years?

I don’t think there’s one particular collection as each has evolved from the last. There are both successes and key learnings I take away from every season.  Some particularly successful techniques end up becoming signature for the brand, like the filter and slash ruffle details.

We are very excited to see your show, what’s in the works for after NYFW?

Straight after the show, we are launching our SUIT collection in collaboration with Woolmark at the Australian Ambassador’s Residence. Then I travel to Paris for an inspiration trip and onwards to Australia to launch our new editorial platform, ETC, and a wine bottle I’ve designed for Bird in Hand’s new Italian range.

Having been a dual-fashion citizen for many years now, what are some of your favourite qualities of both the Australian and New York fashion scenes? Are there many similarities?

There’s a lot of parallels between Sydney and New York, which I think is one of the reasons I was so drawn to New York. Both places have a dynamic energy with an innate style that focuses on sportswear and clothing that is refined but has an ease to it.  

Your garments reflect technical construction in the highest quality, is this your main focus when it comes to design?

The construction of clothing has always been what has interested me most about fashion. I’m particularly influenced by architecture and techniques or details that feel engineered and sculptural.

Women love to wear your clothes and it’s impossible not to feel chic and sexy in them. How would you describe your own personal style and does this reflect in your collections?

I spend so much time thinking about clothing, so like a lot of designers my personal style is relatively minimal and pared back.

New York or Sydney coffee? Sydney coffee.
Day or evening wear? Daywear.
Beach or city? Beach.
Solo or collaboration? Collaboration.
Morning or night? Morning.


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