LFW: J. JS LEE F/W 2014

Photo credit: Simon Deiner / SDR Photo

Ah, London. Here it is the first day of London Fashion Week and it’s raining. Are we terribly surprised? No. And after all the bitter cold and snow of New York, it’s nice to arrive at Somerset House and not see people shedding layers of outerwear before taking their seats. Even though the sun is up and it’s 9:00 AM, it still feels early to my Midwestern-tuned body. One of  the lovely things about London is that most the shows here actually start on time, something that doesn’t happen in other cities. There’s a British crispness in the air this morning, a no-nonsense feel that is perfect for Jackie JS Lee Fall/Winter 2014.

This is a largely minimalist collection that starts, appropriately enough, with coats. Large, over-sized, tunic-styled coats that run in many cases from neck to ankle with hardly a break. Pockets are back a little on the sides so they’re not immediately evident. The visual effect is almost like a large sail coming toward you, especially when the coat is done in a gentle winter white.

What Ms. Lee gives us here is a very basic, no-frills, 100% wearable collection that is so generally appropriate that it is almost boring. Yet, these are exactly the pieces you need in your wardrobe. Colors are very understated. One local person referred to the dark blues and greens as “school uniform colors” and I can easily see where that would be appropriate. Yet, this line doesn’t look too young nor too old nor too … anything. Just good, basic, every day clothing that you end up wearing because it looks nice without drawing undue attention.

There is an interesting play to British style here in the print. Ms. Lee takes the houndstooth pattern and instead of weaving it into the looming process of the fabric it is used as a textured digital print on several of the pieces, subtly done in monochrome except for one delightful top where it’s a very exaggerated houndstooth constructed of houndstooth. That one sweater is the most embellished piece of the collection, though. Well, at least I thought it was houndstooth. No, what Ms. Lee was going for was the look and feel of car tires making their mark over the fabrics. While I can’t recommend taking one’s clothes out and driving over them, the look is very nice and effective.

Even the shoes in this line are super-comfortable and super basic, super-soled, and super simple. The one most likely to do well is a variation of the ballet slipper with a heavier sole and canvas construction, but still keeping the little silk ribbon across the top.

Toward the end there are a few mohair pieces for those very cold days, and a subtle check print comes into play. All very nicely done with sloping shoulders and simple zippers down the front.

After all the hype and drama of New York, this was a very welcome, very gentle start to things in London. Good, basic design, solid tailoring, and easily wearable. What more could one require of a clothing line?

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