Chances are, you've never heard of Yang Li
. But you will. This was the first collection that the London-based Li showed formally, and if you didn't know that he'd designed three previous ones, you'd have been inclined to think he'd sprung to fashion life with his brand fully formed. To put it simply, this collection was extraordinarily accomplished. For starters, Li's aesthetic is wholly his own: Though this season found him riffing on classics like the Chanel jacket, Li's way of translating such looks into his deconstructed grunge-goth sensibility made this collection feel anything but conventional. The details were telling—the pockets on his Chanel-like jackets, for instance, were made of raw-edged transparent mesh, and the bouclé had been coated with resin, which gave the material a somewhat industrial texture. Elsewhere, Li came up with a really original variation on the motorcycle jacket, cutting them open in the back and lacing them with extra-long cord; as he explained, the lacing served both to update the look of that ever-so-familiar garment and to make its fit adaptable. Form and function were hand in glove here, and that is always welcome.
Li impressed in other ways, as well. His silhouettes were nervy but not inaccessible—if a long, broad skirt of silver taffeta came off a bit editorial, his pin-striped trousers, cut nearly as wide, seemed absolutely viable for day or night. Li is producing his clothes at the very best Italian factories, and the sense of luxury showed in the seamless bonding of two different textures of wool fleece on a top, and in the punctilious work on the leathers. At a re-see appointment after his show, Li noted that his biggest challenge has been convincing his factories to de-perfect their efforts; he said that, for him, what feels really luxurious now is the sense of specificity and spontaneity that a touch of erroneousness provides. He likened it to the experience of hearing music live, which seemed about right. All in all, this may not have been Yang Li's first collection, but it was still a pretty phenomenal debut.