definitely one of the best new designers working. loves helmut and interned for raf. those influences are really clear in his work.
Last spring, the 25-year-old London-based designer Yang Li debuted his first runway collection, a line of reimagined street-wear staples with a gothic influence. For someone so young, Li has accomplished quite a lot: after dropping out of Central Saint Martins, he interned for Raf Simons, and by the tender age of 23 had already caught the eye of Michèle Montagne, the in-demand French publicist and stylist who helped shape the careers of Ann Demeulemeester and Haider Ackermann. Li’s clothes are made in Italy, and finished with absolute precision — except when they aren’t. He loves an element of spontaneity, like slashing the two front pockets of a slim-cut classic bouclé jacket. “Art is not all clean lines, but has a human touch,” he said. “Same with fashion.”
Yang Li counts Helmut Lang as a personal hero and spent three seasons in Antwerp interning for Raf Simons, so neither the monastically severe lines of his debut collection nor a penchant for quoting Jenny Holzer should come as a surprise.
The 22-year-old Central Saint Martins grad is based in London but decided instead to show his namesake collection in a tiny third arrondissement space in Paris. “I just don’t feel connected to London,” he tells Style.com. “Not in a bad way; I mean, I’ve learned everything there.” To be fair, he’s not exactly forsaking home. Li comes to London via Beijing, where he was born, and Perth, Australia, where he grew up—a life itinerary that makes for a genteel and melodic accent.
His laser-focused range recasts masculine and utilitarian standards with sharp lines, all in very traditional, double-faced wool produced in one of the few Italian factories in the world that works with the fabric. His familiar shapes—what he calls “youth codes”—like hoodies, T-shirts, flight jackets, and wide-legged pants, go back to the Holzer truism he cites: “Use what’s dominant in a culture to change it.”
Collections are all on his site: