Tin Toy Antics

Right, I've had my Crimbo fill of roast potatoes, cake, gravy, brussel sprouts, chocolate and cold cut meets (not necessarily all of that in one go…) but in addition, I've also immensely enjoyed three days of living like a five year old – sitting around in Kigu animal suits with my sisters, around the twinkling Christmas tree, watching The Nutcracker, anything made by Disney or most things with a PG rating and generally regressing to a time long ago when all I needed to do to be fed was point to my mouth and my mother would immediately be able to satisfy hunger with several options of delish.

With all that in mind, I kick off post-Christmas-gluttony posting with something that draws out this period of childlike merriment.  I loved everything about Xiao Li's graduate collection seen at the London College of Fashion BA show – her use of beading, embroidery, chunky knitwear combined with Willy Coyote motifs was all seamlessly put together.  Xiao Li has since been back to her native Beijing and competed in a Project Runway-type competition (apologies – my Chinese Googling yielded nothing… !) and ended up as a top five contestant who was asked to create a mini collection. 

Xiao Li was inspired by tin toys for her collection and weirdly enough, from her wearable (well relatively speaking…) graduate collection, she deliberately went in an opposite direction to do something that was more creative/conceptual, which I suppose is an unusual trajectory for a young graduate yet right for a fashion design competition especially ones like the Festival of Hy√®res or ITS held in Trieste (though I can't ever imagine anything like this appearing in Project Runway…boo hiss to that…).  On mannequins, Xiao Li's collection does take on a sculptural identity rather than one that is discernible as fashion and the surrealist plays on proportions are made even more apparent when standing static.  In particular the white outfit clothed over a cuboid structure with the bucket robot head could be a standalone artistic statement in itself – a commentary on machine drones or the symbolism behind the amalgamation of corporate entities and toy makers perhaps… …



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On living people however, Xiao Li's collection takes on a different life.  I especially love this stark shot taken from Vogue China's January 2011 issue where a triangular plane warped jacket creates some dramatic lines that look boxy and limp on a mannequin but is amped up to a visually stunning degree on person (helped of course by the beautiful Du Juan).  Actually the issue also features the other four finalists in the competition and it's safe to say that Xiao Li's collection is probably the most mind bending of them all…


When seen in action on the catwalk for the competition, the collection's playfulness kicks into gear with the knitted elements coming to life and the cartoonish beading also popping out more, along with the actual in yer' face silhouettes themselves.  The zimmerframe supported robot head piece also makes more sense with a person inhabiting it, reminding me a little like an updated version of Oskar Schlemmer's Triadic Ballet costumes.  Beyond the deliberately unwearable statements though, it's Xiao Li's eye for palette composition, beading and her childlike take on surreal fashion which is so often a little bit too 'cold' that make me think that she could well adapt her cartoonish extremities to pieces that people can wear. 







As a starting point, I'm already loving her accessories which include beaded Caterpillar boots and chunky gloves with rings, bracelets and errr…fingernails knitted or embroidered into them… all fitting in nicely into these past few days of Christmas childs play. Though I guess if I've been loving it so much, I might just take it upon myself to incorporate a few more days in the year where I veg out like a five year old. 


16 Replies to “Tin Toy Antics”

  1. well its so refreshing to see something like this, specially in these colors, post xmas, its a nice change from the red green etc.
    kinda gave me need to have loads of ice cream and gelly belly’s:)

  2. These designs just make me smile–the colours and shapes are delightfully silly and definitely art, if not necessarily wearable. Enjoy your last few days of re-living childhood before you are forced to grow up and get back to work! Happy New Year Susie!

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