Style.com

August 29 2014

styledotcom "They're fun and whimsical." @MaryKatrantzou liberates the letter sweater: stylem.ag/1vUQH3c pic.twitter.com/keOTccTEpy

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One To Watch: Yang Li

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Yang Li counts Helmut Lang as a personal hero and spent three seasons in Antwerp interning for Raf Simons, so neither the monastically severe lines of his debut collection nor a penchant for quoting Jenny Holzer should come as a surprise.

The 22-year-old Central Saint Martins grad is based in London but decided instead to show his namesake collection in a tiny third arrondissement space in Paris. “I just don’t feel connected to London,” he tells Style.com. “Not in a bad way; I mean, I’ve learned everything there.” To be fair, he’s not exactly forsaking home. Li comes to London via Beijing, where he was born, and Perth, Australia, where he grew up—a life itinerary that makes for a genteel and melodic accent.

His laser-focused range recasts masculine and utilitarian standards with sharp lines, all in very traditional, double-faced wool produced in one of the few Italian factories in the world that works with the fabric. His familiar shapes—what he calls “youth codes”—like hoodies, T-shirts, flight jackets, and wide-legged pants, go back to the Holzer truism he cites: “Use what’s dominant in a culture to change it.”

Photo: Courtesy of Yang Li

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