February 20, 2012 London
Suffice it to say, London fashion week was very pleased to meet him. Lee is incontrovertibly the leading light of fashion Down Under, and as his new collection confirms, he is certainly ready for a larger stage.
It's tempting to describe the appeal of Lee's clothes in terms of their technical accomplishments: the geometry of the silhouettes; the innovative, architectural quality of the construction; the unexpected materials artfully deployed. You can't avoid talking about those elements of Lee's work, and they form a tremendous part of its appeal. In this collection, for instance, he created strands of high-visibility fiber, and wove them into light-reflecting knits, and draped them off sheaths. (Perfect for cycling back from a party at night, maybe.) Another dress, suspended from nearly invisible mesh, appeared to hang on the body as if by magic; elsewhere, garments made from layered tulle and organza looked as though they were held together strictly by light. There is a cool intelligence operating here.
But what makes Lee really interesting, and eventually, perhaps, significant, is that his intellect doesn't work at cross-purposes to the unavoidable sexiness of his clothes. There is something deeply Australian about that: For whatever reason, designers from Oz seem to have a totally non-vexed relationship to sex and body-consciousness, and Lee embraces that, mitigating the potential aridity of his designs by integrating vampy notes. This collection felt relatively small in its ambitions and incredibly precise in surpassing them. Now that Lee has introduced himself, it will be fascinating to see what he does when he starts dreaming big.