NYFW: This Is Whom Dion Lee Wants to Dress on the Red Carpet
The 29-year-old Aussie — who has fans in Diane Kruger and Cara Delevingne — showed a spring '16 collection worthy of movie premieres and press junkets. And he told us his dream red-carpet get.
It’s hard to deny that Aussies seem to be having something of a fashion moment. In April, Sydney Fashion Week saw the likes of Buro 24/7 founder Miroslava Duma, Harper’s Bazaar editor Laura Brown and My Theresa buyer Justin O’Shea — all regulars in the Northern Hemisphere front row — descend upon the runways of the harbor-side city Down Under.
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In July, Nicky Zimmermann opened a new, 3,000-square-foot store in L.A. and broke bread with January Jones, Miranda Kerr and Minka Kelly. And on day three of New York Fashion Week’s spring 2016 shows, 29-year-old Australian wunderkind Dion Lee showed his latest offering of cocktail-appropriate party frocks to an audience including Bergdorf Goodman buying grand dame Linda Fargo, Washington Post fashion critic Robin Givhan and CFDA head Steven Kolb.
Since starting his line in 2009 (yes, at the ripe age of just 23), Lee has won over the fashion industry with his razor-sharp tailoring and unique brand of modern, just-sexy-enough minimalism. In 2010, he was honored with the L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival Young Designer Award; two years later, his Sydney Opera House-inspired collection earned him a finalist berth in the International Woolmark Prize competition. And as of late, he’s won over Hollywood, too, with recent wearers including Michelle Dockery, Diane Kruger, Rita Ora, Margot Robbie, Nicola Peltz and Cara Delevingne.
“It’s always a bit of a surprise,” Lee tells us of his celebrity press hits backstage after his show. “Often we don’t even know it’s happened!”
The Sydney-born designer — who’s been showing in New York since 2013 — says he’s never actually set out to dress boldfacers, despite what modern-day apparel acumen might dictate.
“It’s been an organic process. I think the clothes are quite athletic and sensual and all about the body, so that’s all happened fairly organically. I’m attracted to things that feel very statement and feel unique, so I think that’s probably why we have people wanting to wear the dresses.”
People are wanting to wear his dresses, indeed (actress Gillian Jacobs and supermodel Gemma Ward watched Lee’s spring ’16 offerings of asymmetrical fluid-silk suiting, loop-woven fit-and-flare dresses and juxtaposed sheers and suedes parade down the Milk Studios catwalk). So just who is the young designer’s dream red-carpet get?
“Cate Blanchett,” he says without skipping a beat. We imagine the movie star to be the consummate Holy Grail fan for a fellow Aussie (uh, and among designers of every other nationality, too).
“Well yeah,” agrees Lee. “But she’s also amazing.”