“I Am What I Am”: An Interview with Andrea Jiapei Li

Women, Fashion, Interview

Andrea Jiapei Li earned star status in Beijing after her graduate collection  at the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology went digital via Vogue China.

A matriculating MFA (Masters of Fine Arts) Fashion Design and Society student at Parsons in New York City, Li describes her aesthetic in such a way that suggests she knows exactly how to approach her design process and who she’s designing for— a rarity among young designers.

“I don’t like stripes, or bows,” says Li. “I don’t like cute fashion. I also don’t like red. I focus on silhouette. I like things that are oversized; I focus on architecture[al design],” she adds, “At Parsons, we focus on architecture. We’re inspired by architecture. Our designs are inspired by what we study.”

Li’s process is grounded in her vision of the “Jiapei Li girl”. “She can’t be too silent; she has to be crazy.” Li likes the word crazy; she calls herself a crazy girl. “She has to stand out. She doesn’t plan her life. She follows her emotions. She knows right from wrong.” She is, perhaps, the antithesis to the serious sculpted, angular wrap coats and exaggerated institutional white mesh tops that Li designs.

At the center of an MFA project dubbed the “Kerring” project, Li used a Rubik’s cube as catalyst for a mix and match collection, playing on Cartesian philosophy, and even an Arctic Monkeys album (“Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not”). Combining inspirational verses from Diane Arbus and Alexander McQueen, Li then combined reflective words from her diary, written during an experiential ‘do what I don’t want to do’ creative process. The result was a Rubik’s cube with a combination of ideas that resonated with her experiences as Li, a person. From there, she could be Li, a designer, sketching her designs by evolving what she doesn’t like into a form that she does.

Thoughtfully designed to accommodate every fashion girl—the lithe to the zaftig—the freedom in Li’s garments come from her oversized fit preference. “I don’t want the girl to have to be skinny, tiny… For fashion, I think it’s important to make the person happy when they put on my clothes. It’s comfortable, but it’s fashion; it’s still modern.”

Shop Andrea Jiapei Li accessories; pictures below of “I am what I am”:

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