Words; Gemma Watts
Great expectations are always difficult to live up to, and Dion Lee’s showing at Rosemount Australian Fashion Week defied all odds, once again leaving his guests at the northern concert hall foyer of the Sydney Opera House in awe. Lee titled his highly anticipated SS11-12 collection ‘Composure’, and it was exactly that; minimal and self-contained, just the right mix of sophistication and sex appeal.
The modern architectural aesthetic that Lee has become famous for remained intact this year, with even less frills and sleeker designs. Not only did the Australian designer replicate the very same surrounds as his solo debut at last year’s RAFW, he successfully rendered the same response from his fashion savvy audience. Lee has magically created a completely different collection whilst maintaining the flawless designs intricacies that earned him a solid reputation this time last year. Two stellar shows in a row seem to be enough to cement that reputation.
‘Composure’ has replaced last year’s draped chiffon with a far sexier silhouette, as if the mystery girl Lee designs for has grown up and is stepping out as a street savvy woman. We see less of the feminine pastels of his SS10-11 collection, and even more of the remarkable origami style cuts and folds that fashion designers worldwide are scrambling to replicate. This collection, while far sleeker than his debut, appears completely effortless, fitted with the juxtapositions and contradictions that we love Dion Lee for. White silk dresses restrained by severe blazers, natural fibres overlayed by jutting plastic shoulder pads, high necklines competing with thigh grazing split skirts. This year’s silhouette never strays far from the figure, and while equally as intricate as SS10-11, provides a stark contrast from last year’s collection.
Lee has still experimented with colour, but far less than in previous collections; the palette lived up to the collections name, with splashes of baby blues and ice pinks complemented by greys and crisp whites. ‘Composure’, like last year’s ‘Facade’, forayed into the wonderful world of the digital print, paying homage to the late great Alexander McQueen’s last collection before his passing. Lee has a reputation for innovation, and this year he engaged in a texture-play that we hadn’t seen in his prior efforts. The collection was truly a play on contrasts; immaculate architecture and total disorder. What it came down to was Lee’s utterly original method of print-making, as textures such as clear plastic and metal were photographed and printed onto fabric to create the illusion of depth, and create a more than pleasing visual conundrum.
‘Composure’ is less flirty than ‘Facade’, but less office than Lee’s current diffusion line for Cue. SS11-12 is a tribute to the androgynous aesthetic that has taken the world by storm of late, remaining equally unfamiliar yet accessible to the modern woman. The beauty of Lee’s work is that taken out of context, we find party princess dresses, polished business attire and Gaga-esque illusionist patterns. In this sense, it would appear that Lee is trying to please everyone, however after viewing the collection as an entity, it is clear that his way of dressing a woman is unlike anything we’ve seen before. Dion Lee has a breadth of imagination and an eye for geometric architecture that is almost beyond comprehension.
Lee says the collection encapsulates opposing forces; “from the clinical to the chaotic”. He is exactly right. ‘Composure’ was an exercise in precision.
<3 I wrote this as a review piece for uni, everyone else was reviewing books and films but I thought I should stick to what I do best. I'll post more things like this from now often babies!