When Chinese-born, Taiwan-raised, London-based Jamie Wei Huang recently took a trip back to Taiwan, she spent time in the mountains, listening to the stories of female elders in remote villages. They shared memories of their mothers hand-weaving cloth in stripes with geometric patterns — as unique to a Taiwanese mountain family as a Scottish family’s tartan — to trade in nearby market towns for glass beads. These beads were not only signifiers of the wearer’s wealth, but are also sewn onto the back of children’s clothes to protect them by confounding bad spirits. Handy little things.
Wei Huang spun these collective memories and traditions into a collection centered on stripes, denim and an interesting rubber fabric that looked like a floral fil coupé in a tight palette of blue and white with pops of khaki and crimson.
A pair of wide trousers in white with a narrow green or white stripe had deep external pockets, offering a nice 3-D effect, and were teamed with a matching button-up short-sleeve shirt that looked playfully martial. Smatterings of candy-colored glass beads were haphazardly embellished along the pockets of both pieces, lending some childlike charm.
Denim came in neat shorts whose waistband turned into a self-tie belt, or was cut into sundresses with gently flaring A-line skirts. Pin-striped denim was used in a great long-line double-breasted blazer worn as a dress, or as baggy trousers, worn with a slim pink and white striped T-shirt.
The body of the show displayed some interesting ideas and wearable clothes from the Central Saint Martins graduate, but the collection was bookended by a few looks that let her down. The pairing of the striped oversized T-shirt and matching A-line midiskirt that opened was more dowdy than directional, while the closing look — a vintage-wash asymmetric denim jacket with one waterfall sleeve and a single waterfall peplum on the opposite side — looked forced. But the raw edge denim pencil skirt teamed with it was cool and would become more so with wear.