Story by Ruby Veridiano.
There was something eerie in the air inside the Palais des Beaux Arts as everyone hushed to prepare for Yang Li’s Autumn/Winter 2014 debut. Perhaps it was the elongated silence followed by Bruce Springsteen’s somber voice belting “Dream Baby Dream” that created a bit of a haunting feeling. That, and the word “DREAMER” in all capital letters mysteriously kept appearing.
It felt as if everyone in the room held their breath until the first look appeared on the runway. It was a steely blue dress that stopped inches above the kneecaps, clean and crisp except for the waist, where an overflowing peplum spilled out to be caught and held by the model’s right arm. If one piece described the tone of the entire show, it would be this one– a contrast between the seriousness of Li’s tailoring and an effort to bring an air of optimism through volume. Models slowly sauntered down the runway with a detached demeanor about them, adding to the air of seriousness, mystery, and goth. And yet, by etching the word “DREAMER” in a floor length skirt and an oversized top, Li still makes an effort to infuse a ray of hope amidst the gloom, making for something beautifully strange.
With black as a dominant color, asymmetrical, long-sleeved dresses paraded down the runway with lengths long in the front and short in the back. Paired with black hats, it looked like an outfit fit for a modern day witch with a prerogative to cast her spell. Burgundy and camel also made the palette, appearing as high-buttoned jackets, long skirts, and straight-legged pants that reminded me of military uniforms.
Fur pieces and unexpected peplums disrupted some of the seriousness in Li’s designs, hinting at a bit of whimsy. After all, no matter how dark a personality, there is indeed, a dreamer inside everyone.
Yang Li is a Chinese designer born in Beijing. He moved to Australia at age 10 where he played basketball and skateboarded frequently. He studied fashion in London at the famed Central Saint Martins School. He is a protégé of Raf Simons.