Dion Lee: Nothing but Net
Our first reaction from Dion Lee’s last collection in February was that it was a stark departure from his previous body of work. The rich bombers, shredded string ribbons pants, and sleek leather were a revelation compared to the designer’s past collections. This season however, in perfect timing for a Spring/Summer show, Lee’s newer found attributes fully blossomed into his more characteristic pieces.
And how did this full blossom look? Like his clothes were organic matter sewn right onto the body. From pleated lavender ruffle skirts to jet-navy dresses tightly cinched and wrapped in netting, the pieces were both lusciously colored and expertly tailored. The detail of Lee’s patterning was overwhelmingly intricate, yet somehow each individual piece was loose-fitting and effortless, riding a delicate line between practicality and fragility.
The highlights of the collection, aside from the fact that each model wore a golden face necklace, were the pieces that served as optical illusions. There were laser-cut dresses that became both black AND white in sync with the model’s movements, and there were skirts roped with so much fringe that it elongated legs to a thrilling degree. In a post-show interview, Dion invited us to dive in, and we’re going head first.
How are you?
I’m going really good. Thank you for coming!
All of your shows are always so incredible. What was the driving force behind this one?
The driving force behind this collection was a change in tone more than anything else, something that felt warmer in palette. The line has an openness. I was playing with this idea of clothes that breathe and the idea of air and light moving through the balance. All of the looks are built off the back of layering and melting and internal and external. It was all about weaving two layers together and having the feeling of air moving through the garments.
That’s totally true, especially in the dresses that changed color with movement. Was that difficult to create?
It always just an evolutionary process. I always find that when I start a collection, I never know where it’s going to end up in a way. It starts with a really abstract idea and then slowly evolves through experimenting with these different fabrics and seeing how they land.
What kind of fabrics did you use?
We really wanted the collection to have a very sensual feel, so it was very tactile. We used a lot of suede and silks. A lot of dryer and more organic textiles like gauze or linen. It was a lot of things that felt a little more washed and organic.
You’re very well known for experimenting with different fabrics. Do you get inspired by fabrics and create designs around that?
Sometimes. It always happens differently, depending on the collection. I kind of work in two ways. It’s either through a pattern concept of how a shape or silhouette is formed, or it’s a textile thing, and how you work with something quite intricate and try and translate it into a garment.
The designs are super sharp so it makes me wonder if you weren’t a designer, where would you be? A surgeon, architect?
[laughs] Maybe. I like cutting things off, I suppose.
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