dion lee on bringing together a generation of talent for his latest project
ETC. is a new zine and evolving creative platform featuring work by defining artists who exist in the designer's universe.
Image by Gadir Rajab
When Dion Lee opened Fashion Week this year in front of a looming Sydney Opera House, the label's reputation as a cherished national icon was cemented. Having spent the last fifteen or so years carefully establishing his meticulously cool, technically-driven womenswear around the globe, the designer's signature shapes and textures have become almost as familiar to us as our reflections.
Naturally then, we were excited to learn about Dion's new project — a zine and creative platform called ETC. featuring the work of an exciting collection of friends and defining creatives. Intended as a site for multimedia work that exists outside the fast-paced fashion cycle, the first volume of ETC. is a labour of love that's been over two years in the making which includes work by artists including Gadir Rajab, Jonathon Zawada, Sylve Colless, Anna Pogossova, Stephen Ward and Prue Stent. We caught up with Dion to find out more.
Congratulations on the launch of ETC. It's exciting to see how others respond to your work, in a way. How did the idea come about?
ETC. emerged from a desire to create a platform to collaborate with friends and people who inspire me across a variety of mediums, sitting outside of the fashion cycle. It's also a platform that allows us to communicate the process of the work we create and tell the stories that don't really have a place to be told.
I think people love being given this kind of insight. You've rallied so many great artists to be part of it. How did you go about selecting and asking people to be involved and what was your brief to them?
Most of the ETC. collaborators were people I'd already worked with on other projects and when I approached them with the concept everyone seemed excited to be involved. Each contributor translated the concept of ETC. differently and was given creative license to do whatever they had in mind. It is a very different approach to conceptualising and directing a campaign or a runway show, where I execute my vision. I really enjoy seeing how other people interpret their ideas.
Was creating a magazine a different experience and way of working for you?
Well I love the process of working with a team and everything that I produce is a result of a very talented and hardworking group. I like working with people who challenge me and have ideas of their own. Creative collaboration is always the most enjoyable when everyone is taking a different approach, yet still coming together to resolve an idea. I really enjoyed putting the project together, it had a sense of freedom.
It feels like Sydney fashion is in a really strong place right now, do you feel like ETC. is a reflection of this?
It's interesting, I didn't think of ETC as being Australian focused as many of the contributors are from NY, LA and Europe, however naturally many of the people I've worked with over my career are Sydney based. I feel that most creatives are now globally focused and most of the contributors travel and work in other markets. There is a sense of optimism about working the industry at the moment, which is really supportive and positive.
You've mentioned that Gadir Rajab was instrumental in ETC.'s creation. How did you guys work together?
I first met with Gadir about two and a half years ago. He was interested in shooting a zine together then, which I thought was perfect to sit within the ETC. concept. We separated the archive project that he produced at the front of the book as its own component.
Is there one person's coffee table you'd really love ETC. to sit on?
All of the collaborators who worked on the project, this book is for them.
Is it a one off or will you work on a follow up?
ETC. will live online as a continuous feed of digital content and hopefully will evolve into a printed Vol. 2!
Contact Dion here If you're interested in contributing to Vol 2.