Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Jamie Wei Huang Reimagines the Golden Age of Hong Kong Cinema // Fall 2018

For Fall, Jamie Wei Huang thought about the 1990s in Hong Kong and the golden era of the entertainment industry. It was an epoch moulded in the vision of revolutionary film figureheads. A dominant theme was love. Not sugary romance but a reckless, headless nosedive into the depths of infatuation. She spoke of the “foolish fearlessness” of young hearts.

The theme recalled the cinematic oeuvre of Wong-Kar Wai—namely Chungking Express, and the lovelorn denizens of Hong Kong whose stories are explored in the film. Although it was released in 2000, In the Mood for Love, perhaps the filmmaker’s most prominent work came to mind. The wistful longing and slow-burn build of love. Both films are cinematographic feats, not least due to the fantastic craftsmanship of Christopher Doyle.

The clothes were similarly defined by a late-1990s and early-2000s sensibility. She styled double denim aplenty, compellingly contrasted block colours, and trousers came in variations of baggy and loose. 
For all the nostalgic Huang proposed, undoubtedly there was something darker at play. The sentence in the press release which stands out like a sore thumb is her musing on the 1990s film industry: “the nostalgia it brings is a reminder of what’s been missing now.” 

In the past twelve months, the film industry was the epicentre for seismic societal shifts. Harvey Weinstein, the disgraced film director, was one of many facing sexual misconduct allegations. It was a watershed moment for Hollywood: decades of abuses and injustices against men and women were revealed in the international press. It’s been sombre, a landscape marked with silent protests in the form of wearing black. Huang recalled a bygone era, which is as idealistic a wish as you’d expect from the characters she created for the show.

She delved into menswear with embroidered sweaters and oversized jeans. It could use some more refinement and consideration—it felt derivative. It spun a youthful verve but her skills lie elsewhere. 

Huang’s womenswear is singular. Her primary signature is found in the silhouette: the way the shoulder slopes like a rolling hill. It’s soft enough to not demand attention but it subtly creates volume. Other motifs are ribbed wool,  colour-blocking, and utilitarian elements. There were parts where she updated collections as far back as Fall 2015 when I first saw her work and parts where she introduced new concepts. Huang’s balancing the line between familiarity and newness.

It’s like the calm that rises before love swells, only in this case, before her career reaches a wider audience. She’s thoughtful and taking things slow and she’s all the better for it. 

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