Dion Lee’s show echoes opera house at opening of Australian fashion week – The Guardian

For a few hours it looked dicey, but the rain held off and designer Dion Lee opened this year’s Australian fashion week with a spectacular parade of sharply cut trans-seasonal women’s and menswear across the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House.

The Sydney-born New York-based designer has a close connection with the opera house. In 2010 he was the first designer to show his collection at the opera house and he has often credited Jørn Utzon’s sails as inspiration. And so it is again this year, with a collection on Sunday night echoing the abrupt angles, sculptural curves and fine mosaics of the sails that provided such a worthy backdrop.

There were other familiar touchstones to the resort collection: sharply cut shirts and suiting, echoes of activewear and understated but sensual evening gowns.

Yet there were also plenty of new notes to please the expectant audience of international fashion buyers, media and local celebrities.

Models during the finale of Dion Lee’s show.

Models during the finale of Dion Lee’s show. Photograph: Jonny Weeks for the Guardian

Known for his neutral palette, Lee’s new collection included shades of candy red, electric blues and an acid yellow mixed in with the blacks and white.

While there was little time for close inspection as the models stomped past, the fabric textures were intriguing with laser-cut detailing, embellished netting, double face Swiss lace and yards of ribboning adorning the silky gowns.

Lee even had fun refashioning the archetypal Aussie Akubra, slicing it and making it his own.

This is the second year that Australian fashion week has focused on trans-seasonal collections, a move away from the traditional showing of spring/summer collections at a time when the rest of the fashion world is thinking about autumn/winter.

Hair and makeup backstage at the Opera House

Hair and makeup backstage at the Opera House Photograph: Jonny Weeks for the Guardian

Indeed Lee got that brief down pat, with this collection covering all the bases. Aside from the workwear and the eveningwear, there were anoraks, silk tracksuits and even a ruby coloured one-piece swimsuit for those days when the weather suddenly turns peachy.

Other designers are sure to do the same over the next week. The centrepiece for Australia’s $28bn fashion industry, the annual event will this year feature 41 shows from local brands including Alice McCall, Akira, Ginger & Smart, Bianca Spender and Christopher Esber.

One of the most anticipated shows will take place tomorrow night with the return of Sass & Bide after a 14-year absence from the event, while popular label Ellery will celebrate 10 years with an exclusive cocktail event and showing on Wednesday night.

Fashion week is also an opportunity for savvy buyers to spot the next big thing at the new generation presentations. Last year’s hot tip was Sydney designer Anna Quan; this year she will present her first standalone show. Proceedings will close on Thursday with what is sure to be an eclectic show from Romance Was Born.

A model wearing one of Lee’s double-breasted creations.

A model wearing one of Lee’s double-breasted creations. Photograph: Jonny Weeks for the Guardian


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