Sydney Opera House. It's probably the one picture postcard tourist attraction in the whole world, that I will never tire of stare at over and over again for a good length of time. It just imposes its presence on you, from every angle and in every situation you look at it – far away, up close, day and night, in sunlight or not. It's a real privilege to be anywhere near it and therefore I have to thank Dion Lee for bringing me into its interior, beneath the concrete "ribs", to sit inside one of those famous shells for not one but two shows and now to add to that count, a third time inside the Guillaume at Bennelong restaurant in the Sydney Opera House for what felt like a celebratory gesture more than a show. Lee has had been working hard over the last six months, competing through the regionals and then through to the finals of The International Woolmark Prize, although unfortunately losing out to Christian Wijnants in the end (this was the cause of ire for a lot of Australian journalists, who were understandably all waving the flag for their homeboy). He's just presented his Northern Hemisphere A/W 13-4 collection and as a continuation, a sort of Southern Hemisphere second S/S 13-4 collection, fifteen looks came out before us after we had enjoyed a dinner of pan fried barramundi and chocolate souffle.
They circled around us, illuminated by a Star Trek-esque glow from the lights surrounding the shell-shaped window and once again, making us feel privileged to witness a fashion show in such a setting. The collection utilised similar materials such as the bonded leather and square-holed mesh to construct a succinct continuation and fascination with the masterpiece of J√∏rn Utzon – why, the Sydney Opera House of course. The lines, the textures and its construction informed his full collection for the Woolmark Prize, and then his A/W13-4 collection and so it continues as a source of inspiration. In its natural setting and a place where Lee showed his own groundbreaking collections, this dinner slash show slash note of gratitude to his supporters, was emotional and special. It had some who know him well crying. They know that Lee has come a long way and that he's really on the verge of flying the coop properly and breaking through internationally. He's well on his way to some dizzying heights.
The point wasn't to analyse the clothes, as beautiful and finessed as they were – particularly the scalloped windmap formation sequinned dresses, the draped and knotted mesh dresses and the leather pieces – they perhaps complete an oeuvre for Lee, so that he can move on to his next ideas. Better that we just take away this turning point of a moment for Lee and look forward to seeing what he does next.
Some of you probably have seen the beautiful video and lookbook which he created for the International Woolmark Prize but just in case you haven't, here's a reminder. Gradiated felting, twisted cut-outs and clever pattern cutting involving hats that segue into jackets – these are the main innovations of Lee's use of wool that impressed the judging panel. I haven't even seen this collection in person and I'm blown away. It's only up close and personal and seeing it in movement on the body, that Lee' work gets infinitely better. Like I said, there are some dizzying heights yet to scale. Lee's definitely up to the task.