Backstage with Jamie Wei Huang

My first London Fashion Week was incredible. It wasn't the start I'd expect to be, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Just a few days before everything begins, I got a job offer to document Jamie Wei Huang's show as a photographer. I wasn't just there for the show; I got to see the casting, their venue preparation, and the busiest backstage when the models hit the catwalks. Every single element and detailed stunned me, and I was so impressed by all the effort a team has to put in to make a show come to life. It was the perfect first LFW experience I could ask for. London fashion week officially ended two weeks ago, and there's so much to share. So, let me walk you through.

倫敦時裝周,兩週前正式結束。這次與 Wazaiii 合作,擔任黃薇這季的側拍攝影師;透過影像,紀錄她從模特兒的選角、場佈一直到秀場當天後台的情形。短短一週不到,背著相機穿梭在黃薇的團隊中,深怕錯過任何一個好畫面,是段刺激有趣的美好經驗。其實,對於嚮往的人事物我們總是會抱持份憧憬與幻想;而我,一直以來都認為參與四大時裝周,到畢業後才會有機會。這份工作來得突然,也與預想中的規劃不同,卻是最好的「第一次」。

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5 days before the show, I arrived at Jamie’s studio in East London to document their casting process. Though the place wasn’t very spacious, I had witness the most productive team working skills on getting the models ready, taking outfit photos, organising the clothes & accessories. As just an observer, I can already tell how complicated the process is — having limited time to find the right size and look for the models to get in to. And not to mention styling them correctly as the runway only without makeup & hair. Though I have to admit, I sure feel like a hobbit walking between the tallest model crowd (with heels!).

The reality is that no matter how much research you've done for the brand/subject/client, meeting them will always be a whole different story. There are greater joys of good surprises, and of course, challenges when it comes to a venue you couldn't have access prior the shoot. So there's the Jamie Huang -- big eyes, straight black hair, feminine look and tomboyish effortlessness; and just as work starts, there's the determined, confident & professional London-based Taiwanese designer who had launched her brand in 2013.

服裝秀五天前,下午兩點準時到黃薇的在東倫敦的工作室報到。本來就不大的空間,被本季的衣服鞋子排滿,一旁的師傅正專心的製作秀場上會用到的皮革包款。模特兒們還沒出現,就已經知道會是個極度忙碌的下午。幾個小時過去,眼前的團隊雖然都很年輕(大多都是實習生),卻展現了十分專業的效率和態度。在有限的時間內,替幾十位模特兒輪流穿搭,按照設定好的搭配,替他們找好合適的鞋子尺寸,除了妝髮,其餘都比照秀場,不能出錯。

其實在側拍前一晚,已經在電腦前做了功課,詳細閱讀了幾篇關於黃薇的專訪,雖然對這名字已不陌生,但還是希望再多一點的了解,工作起來也比較踏實。長髮大眼,嬌小的身形,在歐洲眾多成熟臉龐中,好似還帶點學生的活潑與青澀;不過這一切,在模特兒抵達後就有了改變,收起笑容,眼神轉為堅定,舉手投足都是專業。

 

Well, a good show or presentation is never merely about great designs. Having the right venue decoration is just as important. We all know about Karl Lagerfeld’s most creative Chanel venues (yes, the supermarket & airport), or when Ralph Lauren took it on the street during Fall 2016. The perfect prop and decor may not be the fanciest, but it always brings out the designer’s characteristic for the season. This season, Huang’s venue comes with an earthy style, combining white furniture with green plants. Everything is pretty minimal, which really compliments the clothes; since her designs tends to come with more patterns & colours.

There's no need to discuss how crazy preparing a show can be, especially if you're running three in one afternoon. Even so, it doesn't mean the presentation's scale are any smaller. In fact, it's a great intimate moment with the 30 looks Jamie had prepared. Truthfully. You see, everyone is a front row guest, I'm sure there are no complaints about that.

一場秀除了本季的設計,與衣物配件一樣重要的是秀場佈置。紅花與綠葉說穿了其實缺一不可,好的場佈,不會奪主,反而能傳達並襯托設計師要呈現的風格訊息。如同我們耳熟能詳的 Chanel 大秀,幾乎每季都會研發出令人驚豔的秀場;又或著像去年的 Ralph Lauren 直接承接地利之便,把場佈這件事交給了紐約街道,也很有影響力。時間拉到時裝前一晚,即便只是以一個旁觀者的視角看著眼前的準備工作,自己彷彿早已身歷情境,對於隔天一連三場的服裝秀展演,興奮之情實在難以言喻。

地點在倫敦聖馬汀學院,是分成三個時段的小型秀場。初期不懂這種手法,一直到看到完整的場佈才恍然大悟 — 「啊,這樣每位嘉賓都能在 front row了呢!」。原來,是貼心打造的近距離觀賞。當天大夥兒早上六點就開始如火如荼的進行前置作業,所有人馬竭盡心力,把大小細節打點好,為的就是待會兒的亮相演出。在後台,美妝很美髮師細膩的達成這次的彩妝要求,修長的手指熟練地吹整上妝,兩兩一組沒有太多的對話,看得出他們幾人之間的早已有妥貼的默契。

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Once we're as close as 5 mins before the show, things started to get tense. I was told that the most stressful moment of a fashion week is not casting, venue preparing or the morning of it; but instead, the parallel moment when the models are starting to hit the runway, and the team have only seconds to get the next one ready on time. After my first sight of LFW, you won't see me arguing about that.

一面觀察,時間一面逼近。在接這份工作時,相同產業工作的朋友告訴我,一場秀最緊張、最難掌控但也最精彩的時刻都發生在更衣室到伸展台前那一小段路。現在回想,的確沒錯;與寸步不離,到展台前一刻都還在進行調整,化妝與髮型師手握梳子與刷具隨時待命,完美要再完美。狹小的空間,成了場美麗的時裝戰場,而黃薇則是把關的將軍,未經她審核,誰也不能通過。

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Even though my job is mainly focused on the BTS bits, I was lucky enough to see one of the shows in person. And then I realised, that moment was probably the first time I got to really sit down & admire the designs since I started shooting with the team. The story of the AW 2017 centres around the aesthetic of the 80s. Presenting in Central Saint Martins London, undoubtedly a brilliant foray into pattern and texture; most of all, as Jamie Wei Huang has always been known to produce  --  the amazing structures. Of course, the bold colour choice of platformed shoes, crew neck knitwears, and fluffy pink bags successfully shifted our memories back to the good old vintage days.

The fashion industry isn’t as glamorous as most people think. Fashion week, in particular, takes loads of preparation, productivity, and scheduling. Having the chance to witness the behind-the-scenes was really inspiring, and made me love and appreciate fashion even more.

雖然工作本身是側拍,但還是很幸運地得到在攝影區觀賞其中一場的機會;因為看過casting,對於要上場的搭配也頗有印象,不過靜下心來好好觀賞,這幾天下來還是第一次。提起本季服裝,是以80年代為核心,開場影片也是圍繞著溜冰場與霓虹燈做開端。影片過後,再藉由服裝帶領大家繼續沈浸在那段浪漫、活潑的記憶中,為此黃薇也特意加入了disco元素,將金屬色系以她擅長的幾何圖形放在服裝上。採用一慣的不規則剪裁和中性風格,以高腰褲、寬袖高領以及手工西裝製造復古氛圍。另外,這季的配件也令人耳目一新,漸層厚底鞋,以及模樣逗趣的粉色絨毛包款,強勢吸引了我們的目光,再次呼應主題。

好快啊,感覺第一天到工作室報到還是昨天的事。幾天下來,發現自己對時裝秀的想法有了改變與衍生。若是將一場秀作為評斷設計師的表象標竿,那實在可惜;畢竟一個團隊幾百個小時的努力,絕對不只是為了伸展台上那二十分鍾,作品固然重要,但求的也是氣氛,更是觀賞者當下的感受,明白點說,是希望能將設計師一季來的理念完整傳遞。

All that said, I distinctly remember that night before the show, as I was walking towards the station with one of the volunteers. In her words, spending time with Jamie was like spending time with your favourite college senior: gracious and caring. She's a real deal.

寫到這裡,突然想起在秀的前一晚,與當天來支援的一名學生志工的聊天內容;她說,黃薇除了設計師與領導者的身份,更有種學姊的感覺,親切卻不失威嚴。這樣的形容的確準確,從外表到談吐,沒有浮誇地賣弄,什麼都是淡淡地添加一點點。而至於那每個人都有的隱藏特質呢?在我看來,黃薇是透過她的設計來呈現,將旁人不易察覺的另一面,透過作品,表露無遺。

in collaboration with Wazaiii.//shot on Nikon DF with 24-85mm lens.