From working with singer Grimes to creating signature genderless corsets and owning one of NYFW’s most anticipated brands, acclaimed Australian designer Dion Lee has made a name for himself since jumping into the fashion scene back in 2009. Now, his eponymous label is entering the world of Web3 with its first ever 550-piece NFT drop. “Dion Lee: Facade” takes inspiration from its Fall 2022 lace-clad runway collection and brings light to the complex human sensibilities of sensuality and anonymity.
To celebrate his latest endeavor, Lee sat down with Jing Meta to talk diving into unchartered terrains, collaborating with NFT artist Samuel Walker, and how the metaverse is opening up new directions for fashion.
Your brand is all about taking risks, but how did the idea of entering the world of digital fashion come on your radar?
It’s been something that we’ve been watching and looking at and exploring. But it felt particularly right for this collection, because it was referencing this idea of facades. And that idea really kind of started to blur into how we construct our digital identity. So much of that now is online, and this parallel of the collection in the virtual world felt like an interesting way to communicate the clothes. It’s a further extension, I suppose, for the season.
You have a lot of experience in tactility and working with materials and fabrics. How was the design process different with everything being digitized?
It was really important to have an intersection. The idea was to take clothes that exist in real life and then translate that into the virtual world, rather than creating clothing that was fantasy or something that didn’t previously exist. That realism was quite important to the design process. We worked with the actual garment patterns, which already existed as digital files, so we were able to translate them into renderings.
How did it come about that you would partner with NFT artist Sam Walker on the virtual collection?
We were approached by Sam Walker and MA+ Group to work on the project. It was compelling for me, because I was really interested in exploring the space but wasn’t actively seeking that out. So it was nice to have conversations to explore how that would look, what that would mean for me and the brand, and investigate what was possible. I saw the opportunity as a chance to experiment in the digital space.
Do you own any of your own NFTs?
I don’t own any NFTs, but I have been creating digital campaigns and working with digital artists and animators for a number of seasons. So the idea of creating environments and worlds and this online constructed image is something that I have been kind of been working on for a while now. Aesthetically, I felt kind of aligned in terms of how the process of building something out was. It felt intuitive to explore.
Since the news about your NFT project was announced, what has the general response been like? Were you faced with any skepticism?
I think it’s very polarizing, and I think people are still navigating what it means and how it works and how they plan to interact with it. For me, it was the interactiveness that was really drawing me to the project. I think those who are really interested in the space are able to kind of take the ideas further and make them their own. I was always expecting there to be very polarized views from people, because some are very interested in it, and others aren’t at all.
This is the first time your brand has really immersed itself in the NFT world. Do you think digital projects will become a significant part of the brand’s DNA further down the line?
This is really just an experiment into how the brand could explore its ideas through a different platform. I would be very interested to take clothes that existed on the runway within a collection and translate them into digital clothing. I’d also like to take a very different approach to the projects, exploring more of what I could do in the digital realm that I may not be able to do physically as a designer, such as working with materials or silhouettes that might not be possible in the physical world. I suppose that degree of creativity or almost limitless possibility is very attractive to any designer or creative.
As more contemporary and luxury brands move into this space, what do you think the new era of the internet can bring to fashion?
It opens up possibilities of exploration. We can have avatars that are free from gender limitations and restrictions. There’s a lot more freedom to the notion of digital clothing and identity, as opposed to physical, wearable clothing.