The sound of electro birdsong faded, and a blank canvas of cream tailoring arrived. One got the drift, fairly swiftly, that we were gliding into the world of fallen film stars and bankrupt socialites - hauled up as live-in guests in Hollywood hotels. The image of Veronica Lake and Valley of the Doll types floating from their bedroom to the pool is one classic cruise-type narrative that is going nowhere fast. Poolside-to-bedside pyjama jackets, cropped culottes, and tailored slumber shorts merchandised the flawed reverie.
Jackie JS Lee spoke of freedom, and in this case the freedom of a bird from an open cage. The soundtrack didn't invite an air of liberation; the bird tweets felt tinny and short-lived. Sadly some of the following sections resonated. ‘Freedom’ saw the designer engage with a forced construct of freedom that neither felt as emotional or as luxurious as it could have been. The black satin on one look was aggressively shiny, and acidic apple green gave the collection a sour bite. There was definitely an air of man-made hedonism. One of the last looks made one want to listen to Groove is in the Heart, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, freedom doesn’t always need to mean toxic stripes and ginghams. The sky blues and softer pinks were much more emblematic of a songbird’s bid for the infinite.
This was where Lee was at her best. Pin tuck pleats created an architectural flatness to airy candy pinks, sky blues and chambray denim. Dresses neatly billowed and were prim, fresh and desirable. Fluttering appliqués were laser cut within chevron sections – the most effeminate and emotive part of the collection. Lee also achieved great things with devoré. A trompe l'oeil split down the leg of a striped dress was clever.
Fully-fashioned appendages jutted out from hips like deck chairs on beaches, oversized dresses slid like canvases off the wall, sliding down shirt-sleeved shoulders - this will have been the hanging street art influence she spoke of. The body as canvas, we’ve seen all the greats do this. The collection’s candy stripes also troubled. They not only represented the bars of a cage, and, emblematic of a stick of rock, they nodded towards a print, which has been claimed as recent-iconic by two of fashion’s leading designers. The demi skirts, ditto.
Lee is a very talented pattern cutter, but to be a creative director demands some more originality and a committed point of view.