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Dion Lee A/W11

The young designer wows again at the Sydney Opera House during Rosemount Australian Fashion Week

Dion Lee had some awfully big show shoes to fill, to follow up his ethereal and extraordinary S/S11 collection shown at Sydney Opera House last year. He wisely decided nothing could top this location and went with the same venue for his latest collection shown last week with even more sun streaming in through the Opera House windows. His show invite was a packet of pharmaceutical pills (they were mints sadly…) dispensing a good dosage of Composure and that was exactly what we got in this collection that contrasted clinical elements with an intriguing exploration of texture.

It had a thoroughly more aggressive tone with Lee running the gamut of textures that traversed from printed latex to digitally printed rubber dots to vinyl coating - anything that suggested throwaway synthetics. His precise and deconstructed tailoring and a soft series of white pleated dresses bookended a collection that once again at RAFW, marked him out as a designer to watch out for on the international scene.
 
Dazed Digital: You chose to show at the Sydney Opera House again and in lieu of what was a highly publicized show last year.  Was this second show a reaction or continuation of the last one?
Dion Lee:
A little bit of both. There was a reaction, knowing that those images (of the last show) was so syndicated.  I suppose I have a lot to thank for that moment being so progressive and such a turning point. It’s interesting that designers internationally show at the same venue over and over again and that there’s an ownership with their chosen space. When we started looking at other venues, we realized it doesn’t really get any better than showing at Sydney Opera House. I thought it would be interesting to reinterpret the space. I was actually hoping it would rain actually!  A thunderstorm would have been amazing especially with this collection. There are soft elements to it but there’s definitely a soft and hard dichotomy.
 
DD: Were you trying signature for precise and complex tailoring in the first half of the show -
Dion Lee:
The first section was this idea of this micro-silhouette.  Almost like profile silhouettes that sit out from the side. They came from dissection of jacket shapes.  For example a short would be the continuation of the bottom of the jacket with this intersection element.
 
DD: You also used a great deal of texture in this collection - how did that come about?
Dion Lee:
With each collection, you want there to be an unexpected element. For me, texture has never been a great focus. These prints have all come from texture. I wanted there to be this packaging-derived and synthetic element.
I wanted this clinical design, something that people don’t take notice of - things that are always around us and yet we’re not aware of it.
 
DD: Where there any particular references you were looking at?
Dion Lee:
I suppose I was looking at different art references.  I was looking at airbrushing from people like Jeff Koons.  Then there was this slight Damien Hirst clinical element to it as demonstrated in the invite (made up like a pharmaceutical box of pills).  It combines all the textures that I use in the collection.
 
DD: How do you manage to combine so many ideas into one collection and make it cohesive?
Dion Lee:
You have one idea and there’s always opposing ideas and that’s what I’m interested in.  If I just showed one thing, for example if I showed just clinical tailoring, I think that wouldn’t really explore something.  I also like dichotomy and things that contrast each other. I’m still very challenged my making lots of things come together in a short period of time.

Photography by Mike Cooper