The dates 1987-2087 embroidered on shoes and emblazoned across the chest hinted at a hundred years of Yang Li and looked ominous in the 16th-century Gothic Saint-Merri church. The mood was as dark and punky at this “otherworldly funeral-esque show,” as the London-based designer coined it, and the collection was a backward glance at the life and times of Yang Li since 1987.
As any shrewd heir would, he has sifted through the estate of seasons past for valuables. Backstage passes of seasons past dangled from bags, a collaboration with Austrian performance outdoor gear KTC. His “ghost jackets,” with their detached lining acting as backpack straps, trailed as capelets. The “our aim is wakefulness/our enemy is dreamless sleep” motto — Li has the words tattooed on him — were a nod to summer 2015 and his hookup with Genesis P-orridge. Right down to the pose, the bustier dress of look 24 was a dead-but-evolved ringer for the opening look of his inaugural Parisian show for spring 2014.
But Li wasn’t coasting on past achievements. Tailoring was still a strong suit and raw seams showed his construction work.
His modus operandi remains taking hardworking fabrics and elevating them in layered re-creations that played heavily on seam displacement and asymmetry. Consider double-waisted trousers that hugged the waist as a corset and sat low on the hips, or form-fitting dresses that hit, depending on how you looked at them, the right notes from each decade from the Fifties to now.
By treating his work as he would any other external source of inspiration, the resulting looks were leaps, not increments, away from their former selves.