While balancing six Australian stores, with three in Sydney alone, Dion Lee is out to conquer the international market. After eight successful NYFW showings he’s no longer considered an “Australian designer”, just a designer.
Making the move to New York late last year, with his design studio in tow, Lee was determined to make them sit up and listen in the same way we did.
“Creatively, I feel inspired and motivated by the challenges of starting again in a new market,” says Lee.
Showing at Skylight in Clarkson Square on Saturday, Lee fitted in well alongside former Dior designer Raf Simons (showing his debut collection for Calvin Klein) and Marc Jacobs.
While his structural designs will always be a central part of Lee’s look, Fall 2017 marked a more fluid direction. This comes down to the athleisure movement. Today, movement is key.
Unstructured silhouettes and fluid fabrics floated down the runway, toughened by military-style blazers and vests with stocky lapels. The palette was neutral, anchored by pops of neon colour. Eyes flickered from slinky cobalt-blue velvet slip dresses to ankle-skimming shearling coats in fire-engine red. Furry scuffs (slides) and clunky lace-up boots peeped out from under pleated skirts.
The designs felt intelligent and strong, relying on deft construction, but with a playful accent. But the debut of tracksuits was the real talking point. There were low-slung, neon-red trackpants with matching zip-up hooded jackets. The most luxe translation of the sports staple was the velvet puffer jacket, which added texture and dimension to each look.
Another surprise was the launch of EYES, Lee’s original eyewear collection. The style is a modern take on the vintage triathlon look. We spoke to Lee before the show.
Broadsheet: Eight consecutive seasons showing at NYFW. How does it feel?
Dion Lee: I can’t believe it. I feel it has gone very quickly. There is now a sense of familiarity and ease in showing in New York and the process has become more exacting than it is daunting.
BS: Was the move to New York a personal or a business decision?
DL: There’s always been a synergy between the brand and the city, therefore moving here felt like a natural progression.
BS: Can you describe the collection?
DL: FW17 combines structured military tailoring pared back with relaxed sportswear silhouettes. Grungy shearling and knit textures are contrasted with sculptured wool and wet-look patent leather. Military influences can be seen in triangular-chain netting, looped epaulettes and camouflage motifs. Voluminous silhouettes and cashmere tailoring add ease to the collection.
BS: How did you go about curating which styles were shown from the collection?
DL: Each season I collaborate with a stylist to pull the runway looks together. FW17 is being styled by Alex Harrington, who I’ve worked with for the past two seasons.
BS: Do you have a social-media strategy for the week?
DL: We’re trying to include our audience in more of the collection preparations in the lead up to the show, in addition to working with photographers to create curated content for our channels.
BS: Why did you decide to launch eyewear?
DL: I’ve always been interested in the category from a design perspective, so it has been a really exciting development. [EYES] has a focus on materiality and strong silhouettes.
BS: Any other designers you’re excited to see over fashion week?
DL: I’m hoping to catch some friends’ shows after the collection is wrapped up. Would love to see Zimmerman and Tome, if I can make it out of the studio.