“You will listen to my voice; my voice will help you and guide you still deeper into Europa” crooned the voice of Max Von Sidow, opening Yang Li’s show for his S/S 2015 collection.
Much like the Lars Von Trier movie that explores themes of guilt and manipulation in post-war Germany, Yang Li departs from the mundane and brings edge to his collection by respecting the past and placing hope in the future.
Born in Beijing in 1987, Li discovered the power of dress through positions of isolation. His upbringing in China was dominated by Chinese law, politics and the Cultural Revolution. Li moved to Perth, Western Australia at the age of 10 and his isolation continued due to cultural and language barriers.
Taking up basketball and skateboarding as a regular pastime in his teenage years, Li found fashion through sport and what he describes as the ‘culture of tribes’. He discovered that the clothes you wear characterize who you are and your role within the community. Whether you roll up your jeans, wear ties to look professional or buy a particular shoe, the way we dress helps to create an image of the person we are or the person we want to be.
Li began an undergraduate fashion program at Central Saint Martin’s London but soon dropped out to work alongside Raf Simmons, whose style he was inspired by. However, Li returned to London later in 2010 with aims to unveil his own line – and he did just that.
His recent S/S 2015 collection acquires a romantic minimalist tone with precise tailoring but somewhat chaotic elaborations. Li creates a roughness to his collection through edgy detailing and removing unnecessary seaming to help define the Yang Li brand.
The collection is both modern and wearable, helping to narrow the divide between runway and street. Wispy skirts and sheer fabric connect the garments, enabling the collection to vary between polished, refined pieces and rough, sketchy ones.
While Li designs both women’s and men’s apparel, his collections are not always gender specific with elongated shapes and clothing depicting both masculine and feminine elements.
As a whole, Li’s collection is fresh and sometimes dramatic, emphasising a unisex appeal. Li’s passion and talent shines through his runway designs and his growing army of fashion followers show that he’s only going to keep getting better.
By Chloe Fraser