He was tapped to open Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia earlier this year—an honour for any designer—and tonight, in front of more than 200 fashion industry guests, Dion Lee one-upped his 2017 achievements by taking home the prestigious Australian Fashion Laureate.
“I feel very humbled and appreciative to be awarded such a significant honour. It's really special to know you have the support of others within the industry,” says Lee of the accolade. The annual peer-voted award was established 10 years ago to recognise nominee’s achievements and contributions to the Australian fashion industry. Past winners include Carla Zampatti, Toni Maticevski and Akira Isogawa.
It’s a well-deserved win for Lee, who has been building his eponymous label for almost a decade and is one of only a handful of Australian designers who have successfully traversed the international market. The young talent continues to present his collections on schedule at New York fashion week and recently moved his design studio to the US city.
We chatted to Lee about his recipe for success and what’s up next.
Building a successful brand… “For me it’s really about the identity of the brand and ensuring that you stay true to yourself and what feels authentic. In such a saturated market, having a really clear point of view and a very pure DNA is really important for building a brand that people connect with and that has longevity.”
Mentors… “I’ve had so many people who have helped me throughout my career. The Zimmermann team have been extremely supportive to me over the years, and so many other designers have also been so helpful in terms of showing their support and being someone that I can speak to when I'm unsure of a certain direction in my business.”
Career highlights… “Our show at Australian fashion week was definitely one of the highlights of my career. Being able to show in a space as significant as that [the Sydney Opera House] was something that did feel really special.”
The celebrity influence… “It’s really important for people to understand the character of the clothes and I think that often celebrities or influencers are allowing you to communicate that.”
What’s next… “We’re really focusing on continuing to grow the brand internationally, particularly some new categories, including accessories. Shoes are the first thing we’re working on.”
Congratulations Dion! See the full list of Australian Fashion Laureate winners below.
The Australian Fashion Laureate
Best Australian Womenswear
Best Australian Menswear
Jac + Jack
Best Australian Emerging Designer
Best Australian Accessories Designer
Best Australian Retailer