Shortlisted for the LVMH prize in 2015, Xiao Li’s light-hearted approach to knitwear is an absolute delight. Even admired by industry superstars Azzadine Alaïa and Carla Sozanni, the Chinese native has found success striking out on her own after graduating from the London College of Fashion. Her Fall/Winter 2016 season has a surprising amount of breadth in its diversity. Fluid shapes and organic asymmetry are Li’s recurring tools of the trade, this time in what feels like a rainbow of color. From a pockmarked cornflower blue to a decadent wine red, Li fires across the whole spectrum. Though a few of the pieces, like the smock dress, are cute in their girlish aesthetic, it’s Li’s more conceptual garments that are really impressive. Ripples are cut across ponchos, jackets and dresses—sparing no piece their mesmerizing qualities. Overwhelming knits, with a mélange-metallic quality, swallow the body completely in their hulking forms, while their ribbed counterparts are surprisingly svelte and body-conscious.
Upon further thought, Li possesses not only the breadth and scope necessary for an emerging designer, but also the disciplines of depth and concentration as a successful one. Her techniques and garments don’t feel like novelties or one-offs, produced for the sake of whim. Rather, the repetition of cohesive ovoid shapes and macro-knit detailing is evidence of her consistency in vision. Surely to be a favorite among those who adore quality-quirk or an offbeat playfulness, Li is now one of my personal favorites as well.