Dion Lee presented his Spring Summer 2020 collection at the New Design High School in New York City, the Australian designer’s adopted home since last year. It was a collection which had all the hallmarks of the clean, minimalist aesthetic the designer has built his eponymous label upon; deft tailoring, refined structure and intricate albeit subtle detailing. But this time, there was something a little more.
Last season, Lee turned to corsetry, reimagining the age-old, rigid practise with modern rigour (even delicate plumes). This season, bound but most certainty not broken, corsetry was referenced again, although this time subverted with a kind of overt seduction we’ve not yet seen from Lee. Objects of fetishwear – leather harnesses, garters and suspender belts – were contrasted with soft shirting and pleated organza, the product of a collaboration with Fleet Ilya which were handcrafted in their London atelier.
It was sultry not sleazy, as Lee deconstructed not only broader concepts of femininity and masculinity but the stereotypical garb that goes along with them. As it were, menswear returned to the runway in spectacular fashion, with male models walking out in nothing but cream harnesses and white carpenter pants, or form-fitting tank tops, styles typically reserved for womenswear. But gender neutrality seemed to be a territory Lee entered with ease, several looks appearing unisex in their expression (like the crisp white Bermuda short, blazer and tank top worn by a male model which instantly captured my attention). The contrast of femininity and masculinity only further cemented in the juxtaposition of soft drapery and structured tailoring, robust leather and ladylike lace, sexy cut-outs and oversized billowing shape.
As always, it was entrenched in utilitarianism – a familiar trope of the brand – but cast through a softer lens; loose, slouchy and anything but rigid. There was even the surprise of print – unusual to the Lee aesthetic – with paisley print from bandanas fashioned into tanks, handkerchief tops, shirts and maxi skirts in both lipstick red and white, unexpected but wonderful (and packed with commercial appeal).
There was another lovely revelation on the runway, too; Dion Lee Bags were introduced for the first time and available to shop straight away, proving Lee is not only a deft tailor, but commercially canny, too. A collection which left everyone coveting its stylish sensuality and chic, cool-cat-only sensibility, this could very well be his best yet.
View the collection below: