Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Dion Lee: Cool-Calm-Collection

With weeks of hype preceding his show, current wunderkind of Australian fashion Dion Lee presented his debut solo collection at RAFW SS09/10 on day two of the schedule and by the time the cool kids and fashion set made it down the elevator of the Kings Cross car park to the underground converted runway, they were positively breathless with anticipation. Dim lighting and a soundtrack reminiscent of a dank, dripping underground waterway set the mood as an unusually patient audience – the late arrivals of Lara Bingle and Kirstie Clements, plus a missing jacket backstage held the show up for close on an hour – waited.

And it was worth the wait. So often this week shows fell into one of two camps. The first is what I call the “Style” camp; those who took their inspiration from European houses and executed their very pretty and wearable designs with polish, but failed to take bold creative direction or show much originality (Camilla and Marc and Therese Rawsthorne to name a few). The second camp could be called the “Freshmen”; new kids on the block who had great ideas but lack industry experience and so presented cluttered, underfunded, and poorly finished collections.

Lee expertly avoided both of these traps, presenting a remarkably unfussy collection of twisted, tailored pieces with cut outs and blown glass features that essentially gave us what had been lacking in the shows from the previous day – true originality and creativity presented with restraint, coherence, and not even a whiff of a Balmain reference. Beautifully constructed skirts, pants and jackets in a palette of white, grey and black highlighted by pop-tastic blue were simple and yet they were anything but plain, with lapels that twisted over themselves and under the sleeves to meet at the back, carefully placed cut out details, and rows of glass trimming. Again, simplicity was key with the several cut out dresses that instantly went to the top of the mental ‘must have’ list of all fashionistas present, and the glass jewellery was neither distracting nor cluttered, but perfectly complemented each look.

Raucous applause and even a standing ovation from one enthusiastic audience member only confirmed what we already knew – Dion Lee is one to watch. Oh and you’ll be wanting one of those jackets too.