Dion Lee, Down Under

For his second show in New York, after two seasons in London, Aussie import Dion Lee went home. Entitled “Australiana Archetypes,” the collection riffed on a series of national references (from indigenous wildlife, to the outback, to Australia’s nascent history as a penal colony). “Growing up, they’re something that makes you cringe or something that you really shy away from,” Lee said when Interview caught up with the designer backstage. “But I think it’s something I look on with a little bit of nostalgia and appreciation, bringing those together in a way that suited a certain type of character.”

Lee, who’s made his mark fashioning sculptural, body-con pieces, loosened up this time around, playing with a binary of strength and delicacy. “I was attracted to the duality of that, playing with the balance of those two different, quite contrasting elements,” Lee elaborates. Starting with utilitarian-minded wool workwear—a chalk stripe lightly borrowed from prison uniforms and manipulated  into a stiff, kimono-sleeved coat, rustic overalls, and woolen envelope skirts—the collection transitioned into a series of electric blue and black snakeskin bandage dresses; cozy, oversized mohair knits; airy, deconstructed pleated pinafores; and sharp blazers. Low-heeled silver-toed ankle boots grounded the looks—a mix, as Lee noted, of “masculine-heavy elements with things that were almost more feminine than I’ve done in a collection before.”

The collection’s journey into the Australian outback took the form of Crocodile Dundee-esque wide-brimmed hats and liberal use of its predators, with refined yet sexy crocodile inserts on a LBD  and on the back panel of a tailored blazer. A succession of draped gowns with sheer panels, cut-outs, and metallic accents reinforced Lee’s talent for stirring up sex appeal. Even with an exploration into softer lines and more sensuous silhouettes, the Dion Lee woman keeps get more alluring.

For more from New York Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2014, click here