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A Tailor-Made Legacy: Personal Vision - It Runs in the Family

24 Jul 2017

The shimmering white gossamer top in designer Xiaoyi Li's Craftsman collection might look as if it was woven by a thousand very talented spiders, but it was, in fact, painstakingly made by her own hands.

Xiaoyi's intricate vision as a designer sees beyond seasonal trends and fast fashion to pieces
that are worn and loved for years.

“I recognize how challenging it is to start out in retail as a designer, and I wanted to help the new generation display their talent,”
explains Mr. Simons, the architect behind the award. "Xiaoyi is the type of person who we built this prize for. She understands what goes into a beautiful garment and how to create it. She goes deeper."

Xiaoyi herself was enchanted by Mr. Simons, who not only provided her with some sage advice,
but a coveted tip on a boutique (location undisclosed) that only carries one-of-a-kind garments
made of coats from high-end brands:
“He is very chic, gentle and handsome.”


The 22-year-old Beijing-born Montreal resident's designs have a sophistication and craftsmanship that make it quite possible that she will join the lexicon of Canadian fashion stars such as Erdem, and grace international runways alongside her design heroes Yohji Yamamoto, Rei Kawakubo, and Rick Owens. But she traces the threads of her success back to her grandmother, who grew up in austere, uniform Maoist China.

Xiaoyi still has some of her perfectly cut clothing.

Xiaoyi refers to her clothes as “slow” fashion;
she uses drawing and painting to illustrate her ideas,
labours over every detail, and is obsessive about their environmental impact. Her approach is a marked contrast to the hyper-speed with which technology disseminates fashion today.
Of course, as a product of her generation, she finds technology an essential tool where she uncovers many of the artists who inspire her, like her favourite, Banksy, whose renegade graffiti is visually beautiful and makes her think.

In counterpoint to her almost utopian vision,
Xiaoyi has a refreshing pragmatism.
Currently, her painstaking process
takes up to a week to produce a single piece,
but she is gamely taking on the challenge of turning her designs
into a retail reality to be discovered on the floors of Simons,
and developing a viable manufacturing plan.