Monday, May 30, 2016

Xiao Li // Fall 2016 //

Two years ago, I was invited to Xiao Li’s fall 2014 presentation during London Fashion Week. The Royal College of Art-trained designer was accepting the Merit Award from Fashion Scout, which presented her with £25,000 to develop her business. Two years later, Li presented her first on-schedule show at LFW. Sponsored by Mercedes-Benz, Li’s collection closed out an action-packed, five day London Fashion Week. Her presentation was a mix between the artistic and the relaxed, a pleasant close to the week.

Inspired by Salvador Dalí, the Spanish surrealist painter, Li draws on his shapes for their collections. She could be described as a surrealist designer. Her work caught the eye of Azzedine Alaïa, Carla Sozzani, and I’m certain it was for her unique viewpoint on the manipulation of everyday shapes into something dreamy, something that slightly bends reality. On the garments, visible is the way the lines curve into pleasantly rounded bends and the pleasurable view of nicely cut garments that hug the body. Exceptionally, Li maintains a relatively simple colour palette of sky blue, white, black, maroon and lilac; allowing her shapeshifting ways to manifest itself across the model’s body.
Li’s attention to and awareness of the body is intriguing. In some looks, the body is swamped by fabric, though it’s far from frumpy. In others, it’s slimming. How it does it differ from her previous outings? Refinement. Perusing her archive, her journey as a designer can threads coherently back to her graduate collection. The development is clearly seen through her work, but this collection breaks new ground. She’s filtrated heavy ideas and simplified them into a seamless body of work.

The accessories in the collection were elemental in its execution. The models wore trainers which enabled the viewer to envision the modern woman wearing the clothes. A wavy necklace was like a piece of art dangling from a model’s neck. The stylish, cylindrical bags paired with most outfit was another addition to the collection that portrayed further development from Li as a designer, but also an intelligent commercial ploy to entice customers.

Li participated in the Mercedes-Benz International Design Exchange Program for this collection, between London and Beijing. Whether this means she won’t be returning to the BFC’s calendar in September remains to be seen. I’d like to see her back because she has an interesting voice, and I’m interested to hear more from her. 

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