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YANG LI - Romantic and Intercultural Punk

From Beijing to Perth, and even to London where he lives today, Yang Li is a rebel with a cause: to create sublime silhouettes through a perfect mix of punk...

From Beijing to Perth, and even to London where he lives today, Yang Li is a rebel with a cause: to create sublime silhouettes through a perfect mix of punk imperfection and elegance. And it works!

After leaving Central St. Marten's and a prolific internship at Raf Simons, Yang Li stepped into the arena, and was quickly recognized as one of the most articulate visions of his generation. Two years after taking up residence at Leclaireur, we meet with Yang Li to talk about his latest collection, which may well be his most important to date, and what he's evolved since the last one. A little further down, the entire conversation.

Meeting with Yang Li from Leclaireur on Vimeo.


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Leclaireur : There is a notable recent evolution in your work. How do you explain it?

Yang Li: Indeed, our next season is probably our most daring. After a few years, I realized that the most important thing in our job is to define a point of view and stick to it, rather than trying to compromise or to reach the greatest number. And to defend this point of view, to develop it, to push it as far as possible.


L: The collection seems even more luxurious, richer. Is it a question of fabrics? Is it about the attention to detail?

YL: The choice of fabrics is constantly evolving. The experience is also a big part of it. But above all, we have started to work with new suppliers, looking for the best in each sector: KTC, for example, our supplier of technical fabrics, is among the elite in its field, and we have selected an Italian group that, thanks to its network, handles all our production and sampling. This simplifies the work, allowing us to take even more care, to focus on quality, and to grow, instead of running around.


L: Your pieces evoke both the very feminine and the almost androgynous. Do you see this as a reflection of the changes of our time?

YL: It's because my clothes are for a woman who doesn't care if she's wearing a dress, a jacket or a coat, if it's male or female. It's all about attitude. And that's exactly what we tried to develop this year. I think that the notion of unisex is slowly creeping in around the world, but the real pleasure comes from being able to appropriate the men's wardrobe for women, and vice versa. I think that presenting a piece as "unisex" takes away from its power, when there is something deeply satisfying about borrowing your man's coat. This is even the heart of fashion: being able to appropriate iconic pieces and take them out of context, what could be more normal? This is what the individual wants. Fashion is a real mirror.

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L: What influences do you use in your silhouettes?

YL: This season required more courage than the others, it reveals more temerity. Always this story of bias. The opening sequence of the show offered extreme proportions: very short skirts, which is very new for Yang Li, and almost hard, protective coats. Definitely a new silhouette, extreme volumes on top, very small on the bottom. But we also played the opposite on other pieces. This season was also the occasion for research on silhouettes, more incessant than ever. Working on a winter collection also allowed us to use beautiful fabrics and thus... describe our silhouettes. The collection was built in two parts, which is more or less the concept of the season. Like all designers, we give our ideas to the manufacturers. A month later, they send us the pieces. Whereas this season, we left 30% of our work unfinished. That is to say, we imagined the collection and sent it to production without really having finished it, knowing full well, especially on my side, that there would be a final intervention on our part a few days or even the day of the show. By considering the show as a kind of last fitting, we created an available space, open to the effervescence of the moment, to spontaneity, and that gave birth to many of the pieces presented. For example, the jackets seem to mix several jackets, like the assembly of different fragments. We had planned this, but it crystallized at the last moment. And, while working this way comes really naturally to us, this is finally the first time we've planned not to plan. This approach has been both fantastic and challenging. It allowed us to innovate on the silhouettes, in the techniques, and in terms of mixing fabrics, until the last moment and, at the end, to destruct, to destroy some garments, the destruction becoming a kind of final passage.


L: A wide field of action, then!

YL: Absolutely. We allow ourselves to make beautiful mistakes, and we celebrate them. Some of the cutouts in the jackets come from an approach close to kintsugi, a Japanese ceramic technique, which celebrates cracks by pouring pure gold over them instead of trying to hide them. Kintsugi is an integral part of our influences.


L: How does luxury meet everyday clothing?

YL: Luxury requires time and precision - that's the foundation of creativity. I had artisans assemble this very special, reversible, hand-finished coat. Little did they know that with only a few minutes to go before the show, what our last move would be. I think of artists who destroy their work, seeking a more organic emotion. Clothes are not meant to be displayed behind glass, they are meant to be worn, thrown on the floor, without losing their status as true luxury objects. We have created something rich in substance, luxurious, but with a fundamental punk spirit.


L: Who wears your creations?

YL: It's all about attitude - it has nothing to do with looks. We're trying to find a look rather than an appearance. She's definitely a carefree girl... She's got a $600 haircut, but no time for it. We see her at 4am, walking the streets, not knowing if she's coming out of somewhere, or going somewhere else. With a slightly perverse attitude, yes, but a confident perversity.


L: Who is Yang Li?

YL: A 28 year old person with multiple obsessions.


Yang Li's creations are available at Leclaireur Hérold.


Creative Direction: La Frenchy (Mary-Noelle Dana & Michael Hadida) for Leclaireur
Images : George Dragan
Editing: Charlie Rojo
Music: For All Intents and Purposes by Falling For Frankie (SuperPitch)
Personal archive: Yang Li


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