Undeniably, Xiao Li was the breakout star of London Fashion Week in February. The Chinese-born, London-educated designer first appeared on the fashion radar a few years ago when she won the Fashion Scout Merit Award. She presented a further season with Fashion Scout before taking a year’s break from the London calendar. She returned in February with a retuned brand, one that was more refined and impactful and saleable.
Her Spring 2017 collection touched upon something that we’re all guilty of doing: portraying a different life on social media, or at least a more polished version. It was hard not to think of the damaging effects of social media on teenager Essena O’Neill, who famously quit social media in October 2015. Kylie Jenner and that ilk, the ones who portray a distorted version of their lives to legions of online fans, too.
This collection was a prescient affair, coming two weeks before Kim Kardashian West was had millions of dollars worth of jewellery stolen from her residence in Paris, during fashion week; she was bound, gagged and placed in a bathroom before calling for help. Days prior to the attack, Kardashian West had posted images of her engagement ring, costing an eye-watering $3.5 million, to her social media channels. The incident was blamed on Kim, who famously shares her entire life with the general public, whether it be on her reality television series Keeping Up with the Kardashians, or on Snapchat and Instagram. The reality TV mogul and entrepreneur hasn’t reappeared on social media since.
Li’s timing is perfect, on reflection. Commenting on something that has become intrinsic in everyday life yet we still don’t know While other designers sought the easy option, designing for a relaxed environment, without any groundbreaking discoveries or profound reference points, Li was playing with new shapes and interesting fabrics—appropriating the ruffle, taking large cuts from sleeves and adding a girly frills to hems. It was all modern and inventive, and bound for life beyond someone’s Instagram feed.
This exploration of social media was instigated by a recent trip to Santorini, which was another prominent element in this collection. The crisp whites that occupy the picturesque vistas of the Greek locale were present in the collection. Innovative yarns created transparent knits with feminine frills. Modest, floaty tops and loose trousers were lovely additions to the collection. Faded blues, a consistent member of Li’s palette, was used to make summery dresses and pinstripe trousers. At Dover Street Market, Lane Crawford, or 10 Corso Como, these pieces were destined to sell.
All images are my own