The gallery room of Freemasons’ Hall boasts imposing 18th century portraits that line the walls, providing the perfect setting for Xiao Li’s much anticipated new winter catwalk collection. Chinese born Xiao graduated from the London College of Fashion and went on to receive her masters from the Royal College of Art. Based predominantly in London, Xiao Li’s work displays a bold clash of colours, materials and shapes, wildly contrasting with the history of the location. Her collection was heavily influenced by the themes of ‘mass consumerism’ and ‘genetically modified foods’; the Press Release of her show was innovatively captioned: ‘Keep healthy, Avoid Fashion!’.
No doubt her aim was to cause a stir, and that’s exactly what this bold winter collection achieved. Models showed off oversized, cowl neck, knitted jumpers and coats, plastered with prints of tomatoes and giant perfume bottles. There were ponchos with artsy patterns of roads and tracks jumping out at the audience in neon shades of orange and yellow, over backgrounds of cerulean blue, maroons and purples.
Some of the designs were reminiscent of the computer animation of 90s game consoles, while some coats had stencil cut outs of trench coats stitched over them, creating a bizarre look. The pieces were then accessorised with silicone shoes and tiny bags. The bags themselves were box-like with an almost wooden finish, coloured in primary reds and blues, resembling children’s toys, which added to the fun and comic element of the collection.
In contrast, the hair and makeup was harsh. The models sported black, blunt bob cuts with thick fringes. Before the show, we ventured backstage to capture the atmosphere of the preparation and work that goes into pulling off a catwalk show of this scale. We were able to see the models in their more natural element, which made for a refreshing change.