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J E Cai: Fashioning Philosophy at London Fashion Week

by Miette Dsouza

J E Cai hosted their first in-person runway at London Fashion Week SS24, and it was nothing short of spectacular. 

An alumnus of London College of Fashion and MA alumnus of Royal College of Art, the designer has been refining the concept behind his couture which draws on architecture and philosophy. 

He perfectly imbued the concept of the Algorithmic Modular System (AMS) into his newest collection through the use of minimalist detachable clothing and over-emphasised buttons and zippers.

The AMS was inspired by “Tao Te Ching,” written by the founder of Taoism, Laozi. Here each item of clothing can be disassembled and reattached to create new looks. This is done through the concept of numeric values associated with base layers, components, and extras. The numbers being 10, 100 and 1,000, respectively.

In Taozi’s philosophy, everything in the world is formed from nothing. He explains how everything formed grows uniformly from nothing to one and from one to many leading to an insurmountable number of possibilities. 

The AMS follows the same ideology where one system can breed infinite possibilities so here an outfit can be worn in several different ways by detaching or attaching components or extras. Experimental and rebellious in its nature, JE Cai is definitely tailored for the modern intellectual.

To decrypt his concept, he also included deconstructed versions of the outfits the models wore, on the walls. This kind of attention to detail was a testament to Cai being an expert at his craft.

By giving the wearer the free will to mix and match pieces, J E Cai’s apparel creates an open dialogue between the designer and the consumer. 

By doing so, he explores the modern paradox, of conformity vs individuality and tests the boundaries to see if they can coexist. He even included trendy apparel like tailored jorts and midi skirts with front splits to still stay somewhat on-trend.

Cai’s collection resembled personalised uniforms with a Chinese military influence. 

However, he managed to drape the fabric around the models in a way that still highlighted their femininity and he even included softer materials like chiffon and satin which made outfits look less rigid and more elegant.

Even though Cai stuck to a more neutral colour palette with beige, white and grey hues to adhere to his brand’s signature uniformity, his collection was hard to forget since his concept really brings out the colour in his work.

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