Refined lines, sharp panelling and the lightness of a cloud; the visual motifs by which the work of Hien Le is recognisable in the blink of an eye do little to conceal his background in tailoring. For S/S 16, the latest demonstration of Le’s characteristic methods of garment creation, he draws upon the “functional, yet […] very smart, tennis clothing of the 1960s and 70s” for inspiration. ‘Smart’ is a certainly a term with which the collection is synonymous, shying away from the tracksuit makeovers ubiquitous amongst sportswear-inspired ready-to-wear. Crisp polo collared dresses in emerald silks complement translucent cotton shirts and panelled skirts, transforming the practicality, rigidity and technicality of sportswear into an exercise in delicacy, precision and form. The robustness of the tailoring does not equate to an often-witnessed heaviness. The fabrics’ lightness, in tandem with colours evocative of early summer’s freshness, counterbalances any potential stiffness that Le’s trademark pleats, panels and seams might have otherwise imparted. A particular highlight of the collection would have to be an emerald-green wrap skirt, pleated as though it were a concertina fan, calling the work of Issey Miyake to mind. Yet Le works far from the shadows of designers that have come before him; his approach is fundamentally idiosyncratic, a worthy justification for his rapidly becoming a key player across the fashion field.
Particular excitement for this collection can be attributed to its fragrant accompaniment, a collaboration with Verdúu. Blended under the nose of Mark Buxton, ‘Hien Le No. 1’ embodies the same ethics of delicacy, freshness and robust, considered construction as the collection. While you may have to wait a little longer to access Hien Le S/S 16, the fragrance is currently available at a selection of stores, Voo amongst them.
All images taken from the Hien Le S/S 2016 Lookbook
Photography | Pascal Gambarte