Dion Lee: Experimental Construction Combined with Traditional Tailoring

November 27, 2019

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Dion Lee is a designer brand hailing from Sydney, Australia, established in 2009 by its eponymous Creative Director. Renowned for experimental construction combined with traditional tailoring, the brand has pioneered a modern identity for Australian fashion.

The Dion Lee aesthetic is technical with an intelligent sensuality. Each collection marries innovative construction, with a consciousness of the female form. Textiles are engineered to form sculptural embellishments. Architectural silhouettes are dissected to enhance movement and the flow of air and light.

After debuting at Australia Fashion Week, Dion Lee presented collections in London before relocating to New York, where the brand has become a permanent fixture on the seasonal schedule.

Taking an academic approach to the research and realisation of his work, Lee is consistently intrigued by the ideas of balance and contrast, particularly as they appear in chemistry, physiology and the creative arts. The result is clothing that takes a near-scientific mindfulness of the body, cutaways reveal shoulder blades or ribs, floating panels of silk chiffon offer a dramatic range of movement, whilst elsewhere in a garment tight, almost trussed tailoring might elicit a sense of restriction.

In early 2013, Dion Lee announced that iconic Australian fashion brand, Cue Clothing Company, had acquired a shareholding in the Dion Lee business. With a common goal of building the integrity of the Dion Lee brand, Cue Clothing Co. brings valuable industry knowledge, business acumen and on-going support to the partnership. Both parties see the partnership as an opportunity to accelerate Dion Lee’s growth on a domestic and international level.

September 2015 marks the brand’s fifth season at New York Fashion Week, showcasing its Spring Summer 2016 collection. New York has become a secondary base for the brand, showing regularly on the seasonal schedule.

The starting point of the Fall 2020 Dion Lee collection was the fusion of jewelry and garment. A custom chain link that was developed in Lee’s studio allowed for him to hike up slits in skirts and lace through knit tops from wrist to wrist with a golden flourish. The success of his stretch jersey dresses and corsets—yes, you’ve seen Gigi Hadid, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Solange Knowles in them recently—inspired an expanded offering of second-skin tops and dresses, none more Hadid-worthy than an entirely backless gray number with chain detailing at the waist. That was a look that really did the most. For something that’s just doing a lot, see Lee’s ultralow-rise trousers. The most compelling pair hung from a belly chain; the most outrageous had cutouts at the hip bones to reveal a mock thong strap. This ultra-sexualized look continued through the use of fishnet, hook-and-eye closures, and knit furs. Lee’s material developments led him past jewelry and into dyeing, too, with shibori techniques used on jersey and leather.

What made the collection look so compelling on the runway was its androgynous uniformity. Yes, Lee’s models were rail thin, but in that there was very little difference between body types. All genders wore all types of garment—and everybody looked smoking.