If there were any take-home messages to memorise from the opening night of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia, then these would be they:

1. Opening designer Dion Lee has added menswear to his acclaimed womenswear, footwear and eyewear repertoire.

2. He also remains the local master of deconstructed sculptural tailoring.

3. The fashion crowd possibly love him as much as their mothers. 

While the latter is actually more poetic license than truth (love you mum), the prestigious and prodigious Australian designer who usually shows at New York Fashion Week did manage to draw an impressive crowd of meticulously primped fashion editors, celebrities, bloggers and international photographers for a 4pm show on Mother’s Day Sunday. And for an outdoor event next to the Sydney Opera House under threatening grey skies too, no less.

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Designer of the hour Dion Lee in the Sydney Opera House setting
Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Michael E Wolf. Creative Direction: Justine O’Donnell 

But come they did for Lee, honoured as the opening show of MBFWA, which is presented annually by key event sponsor Mercedes-Benz Australia. While it wasn’t Lee’s first soiree at the iconic Opera House setting, it was his first in an outdoor setting, with maze-like seating that snaked around the upper forecourt. The building’s sail-like structure was an apt back-drop for Lee’s collection, which contained his typical mixture of luxe sportswear, clever cut-outs and deconstructed tailoring with an architectural edge.

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Dion Lee Resort 18
Credit: Getty Images

Sculptural tunic shirts with diagonal hems and angled necklines were balanced with more fluid knits and coats that resembled luxurious monochrome dressing gowns, louchely tied at the waist. Mesh dresses in embellished netting and ribbon-like cutouts in linear spirals that mirrored the Opera House’s tiled panels were another nod to the venue, which has jumped on the Lee bandwagon with the same-day announcement it’s inked a deal for him to design its new staff uniforms.

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Dion Lee Resort 18
Credit: Getty Images

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Dion Lee Resort 18
Credit: Getty Images

While it’s safe to say Lee’s womenswear was masterful but in keeping with his expected aesthetic (even the Akubra hats and Sarah + Sebastian jewellery made in collaboration with Lee for the show was perfectly on brand), what did surprise was his addition of a 20-piece limited edition menswear capsule range called Dion Lee MAN – much of which verged on gender neutral. (Overheard: more than one female editor saying the mens pieces were their favourites in the show.)

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Dion Lee Resort 18
Credit: Getty Images

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Dion Lee Resort 18
Credit: Getty Images

While some pieces, like the sporty silk bomber teamed with matching track pants worn over a luxe knit, were clearly designed with a male frame in mind, other looks – like this double-breasted black suit with gold buttons (above) – was paraded by both a male and female model consecutively (even the footwear was the same). Both looked like the look was created for them.

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Dion Lee Resort 18
Credit: Getty Images

In short, Lee did what Lee does best – minimalist, monochrome, utilitarian designs that rely on clever cuts to tell their story. And what better reason to tempt fate (and a $100 blow dry pre-fashion week) to observe it under stormy Sydney skies?

view Dion Lee’s Resort 2018 collection in full here.

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Credit: Michael E Wolf

Top cover image: Erika Yin for GRAZIA Australia

thoughts?