Designer Donghui Wei is an art collector. He has a preference for modern and contemporary art, and is currently fascinated by Chinese painters, which explains why some of the loosely draped silk sheaths in his spring 2024 collection feature printed abstractions of the artist Jian Cheng’s emotional portraiture.
Wei launched his label Jacques Wei in 2021 with the support of the Chinese emerging designer incubator Labelhood after studying and working in Paris for a few years. His first collection was bought by the luxury retailer Lane Crawford, which subsequently awarded him a grant through its Global Creative Call Out competition program. Wei’s runway shows are not unlike a visit to a contemporary art gallery. There’s always an amalgamation of patterns, textures, colors, and materials. At first glance, the disparate ideas can seem random, but there’s a method to Wei’s madness.
“I wanted to create something like a Chinese garden,” he said of a lineup that he presented at night under warm red lights inside a Chinese garden house. Statues of lions and tigers were converted into jade and crystal pendants and brooches, flowers and foliage became fuzzy accessories and silicone appliqués on silk blouses (“a street technique on a dressy look!”), bird feathers and animal prints were rendered as abstract artwork, and ripples in water were represented by pearlescent stone embellishments on chiffons and georgettes.
Double shirts, double dresses, double tanks, and double skirts assembled a paradoxically light lineup. With styles like a top put together with bias-cut panels or a red dress worn under a silky tank, Wei harnessed his own heritage in a way that felt both distinct and contemporary. He can drape a flattering (and covetable) silky separate, but most impactful were the pieces where he focused on novelty rather than commercial appeal. A nurse-like dress with inside-out darts was as weird as it was chic, ditto a run of shirred ballooning skirts one could only describe as deflated bustles—perversely split down the middle, they billowed off the hems of leather minis. Pale yellow, agate gray, scarlet red, and deep maroon were his main colors; Wei said he wanted to evoke the feeling of disappearing into a blazing summer day.
Equal parts bold and sexy, these are clothes you’ll want clinging to your skin in the heat before they’re peeled away—either by a warm summer breeze or a pair of helping hands.