Yiqing Yin, the newly appointed creative director at Leonard
, was dressed in top-to-toe black as she explained her debut collection backstage. This isn't typically a noteworthy detail—except that venerable French fashion house Leonard has always been associated with prints, while Yin, a talented young couturier, has not. So it must have come as a relief to the designer and her new bosses that this setup proved successful today.
Yin went well past getting her feet wet with the predictable range of handkerchief motifs and pleasing petals: She dived deep into the archives and emerged with a bold plumage pattern, an action-packed chinoiserie design, and some bold floral varietals. But the real story was less her selection of prints, or even the way she digitally enhanced and superimposed them to grab the eye. It was how she worked them into and onto such a range of fabrications: mohair, mousseline, jacquard, wool jersey, tech leggings, etc. And in so doing, they appeared fuzzed, faded, raised, softened, flattened. You could sense Yin's level of engagement in pushing print beyond what was originally expected of it. A fur coat, for instance, alternated different fox textures into a motif that approximated the aforementioned feathers. And you could detect some of Yin's couture flourishes: the way she smocked jacquard into an obi-style belt, or her asymmetric positioning and pleating of dresses.
She derived some of those shapes from the Leonard carré, or classic silk scarf square, and pointed to a highly embroidered and embellished felted skirt as one example. Only when she layered the prints on too thick—or too voluminous—did her instinct waver. But the process, Yin explained, was "cleansing," because Leonard has the heritage but has lacked an identity. "It's a white page; anything is possible," she said. Well, actually, it's her printed page now, and there will be more to fill.