Xiao Li and Freda Wang


WINNING IN CHINA: Chinese designer Xiao Li was awarded the Mercedes-Benz China Designer Award Tuesday night. The award will place the 28-year-old designer on London Fashion Week’s schedule next year and take care of the show’s expenses. “It’s a new beginning, I’m very excited,” beamed the Royal College of Art alumnus after the brief award ceremony at Beijing’s 798 art district, where China Fashion Week wrapped up the night before. Mercedes-Benz has sponsored the China designer award since 2011 and this year, renewed a three-year sponsorship with China Fashion Week.

Li, known for her creative and whimsical knitwear, was the youngest award finalist. She was pitted against Woolmark prize finalists Victor Zhu and Nicole Lin of VMajor; former celebrity-stylist-turned-designer Christopher Bu, and veteran designer Helen Lee, who were all nominated by public relations firm Karla Otto. Agency founder Otto was on the judging panel as well as Anna Orsini from the British Fashion Council; The Telegraph’s editor at large Daniela Agnelli; Trends Media Group president Su Mang; chief content officer of Elle China, Xiao Xue, and Mercedes-Benz marketing director in Beijing, Freda Wang.

“Xiao Li is perfect for London and I look forward to seeing her show,” said Orsini. “I followed her collection since she won the [International Talent Support award] from Diesel. I love her knitwear and she’s proven that she can sell,” Orsini said, citing Li’s work as a designer at J.W. Anderson.

Li, a petite woman sporting a geometric bob and electric-red eyeliner, had one simple piece of advice for aspiring designers: “Work hard.”

“You need [to] always be strong and believe in yourself because it’s quite hard to go into the industry but if you believe [in] yourself, you’ll always have that passion,” she said.

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