It is hardly a debatable statement to proclaim that Dion Lee is the current fixture for any club kid from downtown New York to Berlin. Whether intentional or not, this is the demographic that the Australian designer has become synonymous with over the years, and for Winter 23, he shows no sign of peeling away from this trajectory any time soon.
For a brand like the one Lee has built, an abandoned Manhattan loft is the place to hold one of his high-octane shows. The designer has always balanced a relationship between the natural world and industrialisation. It's kind-of a literal exploration of who he is as a person: an Australian (where nature is abundant) who has spent a large chunk of his career living and working out of New York City. It has certainly become more directly approached since his years in New York, investigating both prints and silhouettes that could be found in a Far North Queensland national park, and other that look like they've been peeled off the walls of the very venue his Winter 23 show was held. In previous seasons, there has been a heavy emphasis on the Monstera leaf and Motor cross. For Winter 23, Lee explores ideas around shedding and unravelling, of reptiles and serpents and scales.
The progression is clear, and Lee's balance between sex and tech has never felt more steady, but there is also a sense of evolution in the air. Prettiness is almost completely forgone for tactility and toughness, layers are peeled back to reveal just enough, Lee's play with power feels stronger than ever. The first few moments are grounded in his ongoing work with leather, where belted trousers and bustiers and mini dresses are embellished with diamond hardware eyelets, offering a preliminary nod to scales before direct references of python print skirts and dresses emerge. Each season, Lee updates his layering pieces – some of the most popular and accessible items in his offering – with new details. This season, long sleeve skivvies and tanks are updated with netting giving the illusion of scales, while elsewhere superfine knit (or is it mesh?) is printed with scale-like appliqué.
Outerwear also pulls focus, with translucent puffer jackets and down coats cut in the shape of his signature corsets. Shearling returns, with oversized leather jackets that zip right up to the neck, while elsewhere, the motorcycle theme Lee heavily references last season is reiterated in leather bombers, mini skirts, and pants. Peeling rubber wetsuiting and distressed leather forms mad-max style trench coats and maxi skirts and snake-dyed Japanese Shibori is applied to jersey and denim.
The show reportedly wrapped up with an after party at The Standard's Boom Boom Room to really drive the message home with a performance from Azealia Banks, which, considering 80% of her recent Sydney crowd were dressed in Lee's tanks, felt perfectly fitting. As Lee rides this wave as the proclaimed purveyor of luxury rave-wear, it feels as though he is leaning in more than usual.
See the full Dion Lee Winter 23 collection, below.