Jamie Wei Huang opted against a catwalk presentation for fall 2016. She didn’t host a presentation in its absence, but she did display her latest collection at the Designer Showrooms at Brewer Street Car Park. The London-based designer was missed on the schedule; her alternative designs for the contemporary woman were noticeably absent from my scheduling during fashion week. Thankfully, lookbook images were provided for the collection.
‘Lily’ she titled it. Inspired by the 40s and the post-war depressive economy and class systems, Jamie explored her thematic influences in a “lightly satirical” way, infusing her personal stamp on the weighty inspiration. 40s tailoring was modernised and given a complex twist by the designer. Experimenting with asymmetrical hemlines on trouser legs and skirts, as well as coupling them with buttons and bows, was the first innovative exploration of the decade. Her heavy coats represented the winter months following the war but also the general mood of the time: weighed down by personal and financial struggles, the inability to move with life after a crippling time during the war. I saw this as a counterpoint to the colour-blocking—synonymous with the 40s; painting a portrait of those that fared better in society, and how they blissfully continued their life in an easy fashion, while others suffered.
The dialogue that Jamie pushed is similar to the one around us presently. Economies need stabilisation, growth and development. There’re those that are disadvantaged in society, mistreated based on financial standpoint, race, sexual orientation, religion. She also commented on gender in the collection, such as retranslating the 40s stereotypes of ‘elegance’ and ‘femininity’ for the modern customer. Many pieces are loose fit, presenting a unisex offering for the customer. The way that Jamie deftly defied notions of perfectly packaged femininity of yore was admirable. Her woman is an active agent in her own life, a citizen of the world, refusing to conform with classist ideals.
There are benefits to presenting in a showroom, allowing for the clothes to be inspected closely. What’s lost is their sense of character, how they move when the model strides down the catwalk, the music choice. However, the clothes spoke loud enough to convey a message. It also confirmed Jamie’s position as a designer that deserves recognition from the BFC’s official schedule.
Photo Credit: jamieweihuang.com