I had the exciting opportunity to meet Dion Lee at L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival right after the Woolmark Designer Awards were announced and congratulate him on his win. He was surprisingly calm and charming, and perhaps slightly still shocked from his win - but if he was, he was the only one.
Although up against some stiff competition such as Gary Bigeni, Therese Rawsthorne, Gail Sorronda and Lui Hon, Designer Award winner Dion Lee surprised no one with his win. Sponsored by Woolmark, the event promotes excellence for those in their first five years of business. It provides valuable immediate and ongoing support for a designer who will contribute in a significant way to the Australian fashion industry.
The LMFF Designer Award has helped launch the successful careers of past winners including designer labels Romance was Born, Claude Maus, Josh Goot, Yeojin Bae and Fredrich Gray.
Lee has come a long way in a short time, graduating from the Fashion Design Studio at the end of 2007, then taking out the Westfield Chermside Australian Fashion Graduate of The Year Award in 2008.
When asked about his plans for the future of his business, Lee was clear that although international development was his ambition, he was very adamant that the brand was well established in Australia first. "I am very happy to take my time making sure everything is done properly and that the growth feels very organic," he revealed. "In the future, developing fabrics of our own is something we definitely want to look at doing. I love mixing something classic with something unexpected or displaced and the possibilities are endless when creating new fabrics. It would allow me to take my approach to design to the next level as far as innovation."
Lee's futuristic designs are intricate in their geometry, highly structured and architectural in their composition. Discussing the opportunity to be represented by Woolmark, Lee said "Wool is a pleasure to work with. I love the light bouncy handle to a suiting wool and it sews and presses so perfectly. There is no better fiber to tailor with. Also, from a design perspective it allows you to build sculptural shapes, whilst moulding beautifully against the body. Garments made with wool become classic pieces that stand the test of time."
"It would be amazing [to have access to Woolmark's global supply chain network of spinners, knitters and mills]. Fabric technology is such a huge part of design for me and I feel in Australia we are very limited in what fabrics we have access to. I think there is so much innovation in the fabric industry that I don't know about that would be very relevant to how I design."