JS J Lee AW14: a show worth battling the rain for
Being the first designer to kick start the whole Fashion Week catwalk extravaganza is no easy task. Many editors and buyers are still flying into the city; the morning slot on the first day is usually reserved for young, up-and-coming designers with promising talent. Jackie Lee or J JS Lee, as her brand is known, fits this category perfectly and her Autumn Winter 2014 collection was worth waking up early and battling the rain for.
This Seoul-born designer has attracted the attention of the fashion crowd since her Central Saint Martin’s MA Womenswear graduation in 2010. Partially influenced by her previous experience in pattern-cutting, Jackie Lee became well known for her chic, modernist tailoring. So far she had never failed to present a collection to fill the minimalistic wardrobe of a modern, sharp-looking woman, and AW14 was no exception.
Lee’s inspiration was simple: busy managing her own brand, she had no time to go camping, her favourite way to unravel. Confronted with the situation, she instead used her desire to go camping as inspiration for her designs. Born out of the idea of escapism from the hectic city into the open country; seeking solitude in the serenity of the English country side, the collection was surprisingly light and warm. Outerwear was represented in the form of dramatic floor-length coats with high-collars, to protect oneself from the bothersome weather. Next came the knee-length, A-line dresses and mermaid hemline skirts; mixed with oversized knitted, roll-neck jumpers, which added some much needed texture.
A captivating element that brought the whole collection together was a classic hound’s tooth pattern, reintroduced with deep muddy tyre tracks. Drawing reference from the French artist, Sonia Delaunay, who created patterns by mixing geometric shapes, Lee merged the classic British pattern with the car-tyre symbol – an un-missable reference to the idea of departure. This bold print was major theme throughout the show, embossed onto jersey tops or laser cut into evening dresses, adding decorative detail to the otherwise very minimal collection.
Minimalist is the term Lee is usually coined with, although she prefers to be called “cleanist”. Although the collection may seem very minimal on the surface, beneath the simple exterior are clear layers.
As a former pattern cutter, Lee focused on the execution of the garment, aiming to use classic British colours and fabrics, such as wool and brushed mohair. Used on coats and skirts, they added a touch of sophistication, while maintaining the calm and serenity of the garments. Lee was also excited to use the Melton felt in beneath-collar detailing, a salute to the formal menswear tailoring. Colour-wise, the collection started with neutral white, and later evolved into a nature-inspired palette of emerald green, midnight blue and muddy, terracotta brown.
Both green and blue were introduced in solid colour and in tartan, with eye-catching degradé finishes.
Shoes were a strong statement piece. Clinically clean glossy black and white oxford shoes were covered with pony skin with extended square-shaped soles. Some were featured with extended wells as to mimic the effect of stepping into the mud while walking through the forest, which boosted the camping-feel of the show. In contrast, the accessories were mildly disappointing. The oversized folded clutch bag, featured with the tyre embossed jacquard print, felt a little heavy for the overall easiness and purity of the collection.
Overall, this was a great ‘next move’ for Jackie Lee. Picked by NEWGEN last September amongst other rising designers like Lucas Nascimento and Simone Rocha, she is a British talent to watch. Only time will tell if she can prove herself on the international scale, following the footsteps of previous NEWGEN sponsorships recipients such as Alexander McQueen or Christopher Kane.
This article was written and submitted by Oliver Korinek for Round 1 of Modeconnect’s International Fashion Writing Competition. Oliver was invited to take part in Round 2. Read all the published submissions.