The Dystopian Underwater Vision of Andrea Jiapei Li
Walk a few blistering hot blocks away from MADE Fashion Week’s HQ at Milk Studios and you’ll find a collection that makes time stand still. Lit by a sun-drenched wall of windows at The Standard, High Line, the newest collection by designer Andrea Jiapei Li is as memorable for the pieces as it is for the atmosphere. Models stood frozen in place against stark white frames as wind chimes and ethereal sounds drifted softly through the room—solely interrupted by a sound we can only describe as the department store chime signalling a sale on pillows.
Standing strong in a uniform of all-white Air Force 1’s, the ladies glared and gazed at the crowds and into our souls while decked out in off-the-shoulder sienna leather, neoprene, fringed rose gold pants, and a killer fishnet slip dress. Shades of cobalt and sky blue stripes contrasted with soft peach and burnt orange tones, creating a mix of colors fit for a futuristic mermaid parade set in a desolate factory. Hair was slicked back in tight braids, pant silhouettes fanned out like fins, and diving masks brought out vibes that were more Scuba Steve than Aquaman. Blended together, the elements brought the collection into a dystopic new direction. Amidst the statuesque models and eager onlookers taking in the fabrics, we talked to the designer about her direction for the new season.
This collection is incredible. Congratulations! What was the main driving force?
For this season we just wanted the emotion to be like just kids. Kids are usually naive or something though so it’s not the real kid feeling but more of a kid becoming an adult. We wanted to try and combine different concepts together like unisex meets feminine, sparky and elegant, and the classical and modern. There are so many different contrasting concepts that we mixed together to make a new look and story.
I get a lot of nautical vibes, too. Is the ocean an inspiration for you this season?
Kind of because actually after we made all of these garments and the look book, it kind of feels like there is some sense of the ocean. We don’t care about sailorwear but it’s kind of fun—it’s very playful.
That’s definitely true with the oversized shapes and the different textiles that you used. You use so many different fabrics, which one is the most fun to work with and what was the most difficult material to work with?
I think that the peach colored garment that was a net inside of the top was really interesting. We just finished that one last week and it was really the last idea to come out. I wanted to try something very conceptual and just a little bit playful.
Do you find that your collections are an evolution of your brand or are they completely separate from each other?
We carry on the same design styles and aesthetic we have. We change with the stories from our lives for each season.
If your collection were a song, what would it sound like?
I think it would be a song that’s very peaceful but you can feel some other things like the woods and the natural world. Just mix them together! [Laughs]
You mention the combination of agender clothing, which is where fashion is leading. Do you think you’re going to continue with this idea of making clothes for everyone rather than for one niche of people?
I can hopefully make clothing for everyone because if everyone can feel the happiness from it, I would really appreciate it. I don’t want to be limited.
ANDREA JIAPEI LI SS16 MADEFW – MADE Fashion Week | Facebook
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Check out the Andrea Jiapei Li cheat sheet and our exclusive pre-fashion week interview with the designer for more on the collection.
Photography by Mitchell McLennan and Christine Hahn.