Report by david hayes, editor and broadcaster Photography by catwalking.com
J JS Lee
Jackie JS Lee has finally moved out of her live/work studio. “I needed my personal space,” she said after her strong, Fashion Week-opening show. The move got her thinking about interiors. “I’ve found some amazing things from the Victorian era. It’s been really inspiring.” Many of those influences made it into her latest outing: the deep scarlet and acrid yellow of a turn-of-the-century drawing room; frayed edges, sheared panels and appliqué tassels straight from a haberdashery circa 1890. What might have been tricksy and literal in the wrong hands proved a winning formula for the Korean-born designer; those ideal-home touches lent a new warmth to her masculine fabrics and spare, broken-layered silhouette. Details such as pulled-thread hems and high necklines involved hours of painstaking handwork. “I wanted to do something that was almost couture,” she said, “but in a modern, minimal way.”
Abstraction was the main story at Eudon Choi. Not the named artists some reporters were just too deaf to overhear properly backstage, but more as a new way of working for the designer. “We had a zillion images on our mood board,” said Choi. “We edited them down, evolving what we had so that it became something new.” The results were a mix of hard lines (knife pleats, diagonal splices of colour and Sonia Delaunay-esque block textiles) and curves (rounded lapels, scarf-tie necklines and circle-spot prints). Some pieces were standout gorgeous, such as the navy and rust pleated cape-dress and camel rib-knits. Others, more mixed: a pair of culottes with a tab-fastening thigh-high split on one leg might have been worth a little more ‘evolving’ back in the studio. But what was clear was that the new way of working has given Choi a new breadth and range that is certainly worth exploring.
Home can have a powerful pull. After 10 years in London – and seven seasons on schedule at LFW – Ryan Lo was pining for the Hong Kong of his early childhood. Rather than booking a cheap flight back to friends and family, the designer channelled it all into his latest collection. “I wanted to revisit my memories, my heritage – like Chinese New Year and an old-style Hong Kong wedding in one,” said the pink-haired, self-taught Lo, after a show packed with Oriental motifs. Even the soundtrack spelled it out loud, with Amanda Lear’s Queen of Chinatown and Siouxsie and the Banshees’ Hong Kong Garden. And the clothes? Lo served up enough charm and youthful fun to sidestep the clichés. The ‘flock’ patterned wool coats in slightly sour pastels, butterfly-motif sweaters, fluttery sheer print dresses and super-fake ‘fox fur’ stoles will no doubt be catnip to his army of young fans.
The hush of St Andrew’s church in Holborn gave a reverential air to Bora Aksu’s latest outing. Inspired by Grand Duchess Olga of Russia – Tsar Alexander III’s youngest daughter, who went from opulence to exile on a farm in Denmark after the Revolution – the elaborate back-story was the perfect way for Aksu to upscale his folksy romanticism. Cue lashings of ribbon-lace, chain-stitch embroideries, floor-skimming hems and a rich colour palette that ran the gamut from blush pink to deep red and regal purple. Olga’s tale also gave the Turkish-born designer the excuse to create an unholy mash-up of fabrics with shearling, organza frills and clear plastic raincoat fabric rubbing together, often all on one garment. Defying all odds, the rich confection managed to work as a rather magical whole – frilled bonnets and all – thanks in part to the faultless made-in-Turkey workmanship.