Jackie JS Lee is drawn to travel-related references. Last season it was Berlin, the one before that the fluffy clouds she saw outside her airplane window and now Africa, in particular 'native African tribes living within traditional cultures'. If you were expecting a radical departure for the Korean-born designer you’d be underestimating her focus and clear vision for her label, only its fifth season. Lee cares for a soft palette and even softer fabrics, sharp tailoring and easy separates and she likes a collar – fast becoming something of a signature for her. Today, she didn’t trade all that in for the usual mixed bag of clichés that usually accompany such inspiration references. The operative word in her show notes was not 'Africa' but 'traveller' and a 'relaxed' one for that.
The opening look quickly dispelled any expectations that we were about to see Lee tackle prints and embellishment - an all-cream wool coat, ribbed knit and slouchy trousers combo teamed with flat sandals. Yes, you could travel anywhere in that and feel – and look – pretty relaxed. You had to lean closer to see and appreciate the detail – the buttery fuzzy wool on A-line coats and asymmetrical jumpers, the subtle weaving on the neckline and hem of a black dress or the cream ribbed turtlenecks that accentuated simple black sweaters and dresses. When colour was introduced, pale mint and lavender rose inspired by fields of flowers, the textures seemed to lift – the closing rose coat in particular was quite something. It’d be interesting to see where Lee travels next.