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Contemporary Designer Case Study: Dion Lee

Background of the designer

Since setting-up his fashion house in 2009, Sydney-based designer Dion Lee has taken the lead

in establishing a distinct label that is aesthetically founded on material research and prolific

tailoring. Occupationally accomplished and cerebral, Lee’s labels have consistently made use of

light-reflective knitwear, three-dimensional printing, sliced and folded leathers and ombré-dyed

and needle-felted wools. His elegant collections showcase an ingenious balance between form,

drape, structure, and form, and combine high-reaching and experimental fabric treatments.

Dion Lee graduated from the Sydney Institute of Technology in 2007 with a major in

Fashion and Design, and set off his design career during the 2008 Australian Fashion Week. A

year on during the spring-summer of 2009, Lee showcased his third collection, off-schedule at an

underground car park in Kings Cross, Sydney. The collection was well-received and acted to

catapult the unique design synonym with his practice. To date, Lee’s label is typified by

sculptural forms, futuristic abstractions, and complex pattern design.

Definition of the designer’s style

Dion Lee’s fashion label is defined by collections that skillfully intersect architectural

design and feminine fluidity; a trademark that has proved working for him since 2009. Lee’s
innovativeness has made it really difficult for one to describe his work. Architectural intricacy

has often belied what at face value is always seen casually as tailored clothing, like the pencil

skirt. However, this is not haute couture in the sense of how it is imagined.

"I find the question of my aesthetic surprisingly difficult to answer," Lee says after the

April’s Australian Fashion Week. "It is quite a technical aesthetic but sensual at the same time.

I'm really interested in cut and construction and technique and fabric, but on the end-wearer the

clothes have an ease that's very sexy and about the body and I think a lot of that comes down to

the Australian lifestyle."

Lee’s tailoring innovation probably sets him apart from his peers in the fashion world.

His habit of subverting convention has seen him work closely with the Sydney Opera House,

which is a rather radically innovative design house. He has set the stage twice, in 2011 and 2018

to present his spring/summer designs in the northern foyer of the towering Sydney venue.

The Lee collection is primarily built on the principles of innovativeness, quality brands,

and maintaining focus on the authenticity of the brand. These core elements have steered the

brand from its inception, and has helped them elevate their collection while continuing to evolve.

One of Lee’s innovative designs is the Vein sleeveless. Showcased for the first time in

2012 at the London Fashion Week as one the designs inspired by the idea of free circulation and

breathing, the dress is a clear articulation of the close link between his concept and the ensuing

final designs. The price of this design sets it out as a special occasions design.
It is also a manifestation of the fixation on formal material exploration that has always

been a key element in his practice. When exposed to a powerful, direct source of light in a dark

room, vein sleeveless’ highly visible strands shine brightly, producing a sudden and exciting

effect, as shown in its visual metamorphosis in the hypnotic film Sequence Breathing, which Lee

collaborated with Lorin Askill and Ruby Wilson to produce to accompany this dress on the

runway.

Currently, Dion Lee is designing outfits for both men and women, and these products

range from the simple ones such as the fine line bikini bottoms to more complex ones like the

ingeniously twisted and pleated dresses such as the spiral sleeve dress

Designer’s Price range and target market.

Lee luxurious designs range widely in terms of price, while sports–luxe bra would cost

$250, a male chevron zip hoodie would cost $490


Lee’s designs target the upper class client base. He has a statement that his clients are,

“the confident and intelligent with a sophisticated approach to dressing; she recognizes and

appreciates quality in manufacturing and fabrication and seeks design that is innovative and

intelligent.” This statement sets out his target market as the upper class women who are

searching for sophistication in their wardrobes.

However, Lee is not solely focused on his Australian market. He is actively engaging the

international market and drawing them into his label with his promotional element of an

innovative Australian lifestyle.

To further promote his brand, he continues to work on ensuring that his label remains

seasonally relevant across the globe. The need to cater to a global wholesale market, while still
retaining hold of the Australian retail stores has seen the label focus less on seasonal wear,

focusing on tailoring, fine knitwear and lightweight outerwear; which are marketed as high-

fashion, bold classic design. The design house mainly deals in casual, fancy or office wear;

which is the kind of versatile market segmentation he seeks to achieve.