Dion Lee Shanghai Fall 2024

“Was this the highest fashion show ever done in Shanghai?,” guests wondered as they walked into Dion Lee’s fall 2024 show. The semi-surprise (more on that later) presentation was hosted on the 100th floor of the Shanghai Financial Center, one of the tallest buildings in China. 

After celebrating a decade of showing at New York Fashion Week, Lee wanted to break the rhythm of the high-octane, bigger and louder shows that we had come to expect from him. The original plan was to show the collection in New York in a more intimate setting; perhaps at the space of his future store on Mercer street, which has been at a standstill because of logistical difficulties. “But the end of last year was so congested and busy that the reality of focusing on something like this [a show] for February, right after Christmas, was unrealistic,” said Lee. Just in that month of December, he celebrated a store opening in Miami during Art Basel, then unveiled a new Australian flagship in Melbourne. “Something had to give,” he added. With ten years under his belt, he said, also came the confidence to skip a NYFW season and look elsewhere. 

Lee has cemented himself as one of Australia’s most successful fashion exports, and his presence stateside is undeniable (see Taylor Swift in one of his knit corsets at the Super Bowl). The designer had planned a trip to China in 2020 to meet his buyers and retailers, but it got scrapped in the onset of the pandemic; with the launch of a Lunar New Year capsule in Shanghai earlier this year came the idea of revisiting that plan and activating in the city. Although many Western brands are keen to make themselves felt in China with a myriad events ranging from parties to exhibitions; Lee wanted to make a mark rather than become a footnote in a busy season. 

And so just as golden hour struck, Lee’s star and fire motifs of the season shot across the sky as models crossed the all-glass observatory, framed by a panoramic view of Shanghai’s breathtaking skyline. Placing such celestial elements against the sky was pure serendipity, but that’s about all Lee left to chance here. This was a well-edited and precise outing for the designer. 

As usual, Lee riffed on a singular concept this season—the flame—and rendered it in an abundance of compelling fabrications. “It’s a symbol of creation and destruction,” Lee explained, adding he had considered the flame for both its beauty and treacherous ways. The collection began with a star-shaped criss-cross lapel, then moved into interpretations of the flame motif; printed on grungy tie-dye dresses, woven into intricate laces (one of which was meticulously beaded), and distressed on loose-fitting jeans. Lee dyed lucious faux fur coats—one of his models looked like a literal fireball on the runway—and embossed flames on his leather jackets and on the padded protective gear he employed as armor detailing to contrast his otherwise gossamer silhouettes.  

Lee’s show was off-schedule and had gone unannounced until just early this week. There was no ulterior motive for the secrecy other than Lee and his team being heads-down to pull the feat off. Needless to say they did. There was equal parts excitement and curiosity in his crowd, many of which donned outfits by the brand. The city looks good in head-to-toe Dion Lee, and Shanghai certainly looks good on Lee, too.

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