In a world where sartorial styles come and go, the New York-based fashion designer Dion Lee’s eye-catching take on sexiness and sensuality has endured. Established in 2009 in Sydney, Australia, when Lee was 23, his label offers collections that not only marry traditional tailoring with experimental construction, but also consistently boast an exciting approach to textiles, wearable yet provocative silhouettes, and a body confidence not for the faint-hearted. Such elements have made him a favourite of Wallpaper* guest editor Kelly Wearstler, who named Lee one of her five contemporary creatives in her takeover of our October 2022 issue

An attention to detail has always been at the core of Lee’s garments. Wardrobe staples such as T-shirt dresses and tailored blazers are given added panache with elements of corsetry and macramé rope, producing a study in contrasts. Functionality is also given serious consideration, though never at the expense of style. Parachute pants and cargo trousers have been tweaked for city living, realised in smooth Italian leather and finished with stud details.

Wallpaper* guest editor Kelly Wearstler’s contemporary creatives: Dion Lee

Black and white portrait of Dion Lee
Portrait of Dion Lee

‘The overarching philosophy is feeling good in the clothes,’ says Lee. ‘My process is very instinctive and organic. Ideas flow between the seasons and I am constantly feeding myself with new references and experiences in art, design and new destinations. The collection has grown and evolved over the years. However, there is still a consistent focus on utilitarian, sensual dressing and feeling confident in your body.’

Lee once abandoned menswear to focus on womenswear, but then revived his men’s line in 2017. In recent years, he has blurred the distinctions between the genders. His S/S20 collection consciously adapted his womenswear staples for men: cutaway tank-tops, long-sleeved tees with garter details and sheer knits were presented on male models and suitably paired with low-slung trousers, clutch bags and flat sandals to capture the spirit of the times. Largely stemming from Lee’s adoption of womenswear pieces for personal use, these pieces solidified the latent balance of masculinity and femininity already present in the label’s previous collections.

‘Dion Lee has a truly unique sensibility. He’s able to construct sexy designs that are not only fluid, but also architectural and sculptural’ – Kelly Wearstler

Lee’s embrace of androgyny has naturally evolved into a fully fledged unisex collection, where a core selection of signature pieces are available in non-gendered sizes. Lee’s work since then has been bold and provocative. Body-conscious silhouettes have taken on a futuristic, sci-fi aura, layered on the body, while more architectural pieces distort the anatomy.

The A/W 2022 collection saw Lee not only work with modular sartorial elements – articulated sleeves on jackets and tops that can be removed with hook and eye fastenings – but also explore how sexuality, power and control can coalesce in wearable form. 

Models wear Dion Lee resort 2023
Two looks from Dion Lee Resort 2023, developed in tandem with the stage outfits he designed for Spanish singer Rosalía

‘Designing the collection from a unisex perspective has influenced how I create. The majority of the collection is fitted on both women and men, and that influences the cut, grade and fabric selection for each design,’ the designer reflects. ‘Our core customer is consciously diverse. I like to think many people are able to wear my designs, from the utilitarian basics, refined unisex tailoring, through to the sensual eveningwear. There is a playful sensuality communicated in my work, which is a reflection of how I want the wearer to explore themselves and their bodies through the clothes.’ §