Light came streaming into the Sydney Opera House to shine on this new Australian design star

Nabbing the Sydney Opera House as a show venue for Dion Lee's second solo show at Rosemount Australian Fashion Week was a coup. Whilst true blue skies, blinding sunlight and of course the striking architectural lines of the building itself all contributed to what was an intensely beautiful show, it was Lee's progression as a young designer that lit up the room. Debuting just a couple of years ago, Lee has risen to become known for a sleek sense of tailoring that inextricably stands out amongst his Australian peers. For his S/S 11 collection though, Lee was keen to show a softer side to his work, letting light and air flood his work with pastel shades of blue and lilac as well as creating soft structures in the final set of draped pleated pieces that demonstrated Lee both controlling and being free with his inante precision. We may have been squinting slightly in the audience from the morning sun but we didn't need a second glance to see that Lee is going places, possibly beyond his Sydney home. Dazed Digital: What was your starting point for the collection? Dion Lee: I was looking at abstracting traditional tailoring techniques. Internally, in a tailored jacket you have those layers of horse hair that gives it structure. So we're synthesising that into the different meshes that have been layered. The idea was to turn that internal element into something more decorative. They all create this tertiary pattern when you overlap them. DD: Where did the Rorschach ink blots come from? Dion Lee: Controlled tailoring is what the label has become known for in Australia but that is one part of what I do. So I really wanted to try something that was more free and fluid. I was attracted to the ink blots because there was this idea of subconscious and allowing things to happen more freely. I love that they are open to interpretation. Then I also really wanted to work with more soft sculptural elements like with layers of pleats. I wanted them to have a freedom to them but to still have a sculpture to them. DD: Do you think of your work as being more attuned to tastes in the Northern Hemisphere? Dion Lee: There is more of a culture to supporting my work in Europe but I definitely don't want to emulate European designers. I'm actually embracing what is Australian in the clothes. My strong point is tailoring and the reaction I've come up with in Australia is that a lot of my work is too heavy and hard to wear and so I have softer pieces such as loose blazers where arms can slip in and our easily. Tailoring doesn't always have to be heavy and hopefully there's a real sense of openess and fluidity.

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