Singapore — Fashion wunderkind Dion Lee admits that he does get nervous when it comes to what critics have to say about his collections.
“But at the same time you can’t live your life by it,” he added. “I know that ultimately, if I produce something that needs to be, that’s the most important part of it. And I don’t think you should really live your life by other people’s opinions of you.”
Well, Lee has nothing to worry about. As one of the hottest fashion exports from Australia, the 27-year-old designer has been profiled in American Vogue and his pieces have since been worn on red carpets by A-listers such as Charlize Theron and Emma Watson.
Lee was in town on Wednesday to present his 2014 resort collection as part of a collaboration with INHABIT store, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.
“I’ve been working with INHABIT for three or four years now. I mean, they’re one of those who really supported me since I started my brand. And it’s only in the resort season that we have the opportunity to showcase the brand in other cities,” explained Lee.
So, what can we expect from his spring collection this coming September? “The collection would be quite light. I actually haven’t gotten that far yet, so you have to stay tuned!”
Q: Your resort collection was inspired by oil and water. How did that come about?
A: The concept for the collection is mixing elements that don’t really go together (with) more synthetic and natural fabrics. This graphic representation of images (are contrasted) with more technical finishes such as printed rubber and laminating some of the digital prints. We also introduced swimwear for the first time. Some of my favourite pieces are (those with) the scuba lace, pieces that have a kind of applique on the fabric to create a really delicate look that’s still quite influenced by sportswear.
Q: What also inspires you?
A: I’m inspired by quite a mixture of things. I really enjoy the design process on how things are made, and the more technical aspect of how you pull a collection together. I’ve got a really strong interest in pattern making and how the garments are constructed, and that really motivates me.
Q: Technical and architectural elements are heavily featured in your works. Is that important to you?
A: I suppose it’s very rarely (that one) kind of draws directly from architecture. But there is, in the approach, quite a masculine line that runs through the clothes. I like structured garments so I think, in that way people see that as quite architecture, whereas the inspiration is sometimes not very architecture (like oil and water) but the lines might be very firm and angular.
Q: Who would you would like to dress in the future?
A: I love to dress a woman who is confident in her approach to clothing, intelligent and also likes to challenge her tastes. There are so many musicians that I listen to who I often imagine (dressing). So, people like Chan Marshall from Cat Power, Charlotte Gainsbourg or PJ Harvey — all really strong women with a great sense of style — but they’re also not very serious about fashion.
Q: So, tell us what’s the real Dion Lee like?
A: I’m pretty relaxed. I’d say it’s quite similar to the aesthetics of my brand. I like sportswear and tailoring but I like to put it together in a way that feels relaxed and pretty low-maintenance. I always travel with a leather jacket, a suit and classic white shirts. I keep it pretty simple.
Dion Lee’s collection retails exclusively at INHABIT, Mandarin Gallery, #02-16.