After the successful impact of globalization on the fashion industry, now fashion needs to be looked at from many different perspectives, especially so if we talk about the current 'boom' of Asian designers. They are a new generation with a global look and with wonderful and innovative proposals that cross cultures with the influence of the West and the East, creating a fusion of new and interesting trends. They use a stripped back aesthetic that seeks to innovate in the lines of clothing, textures, volumes, cuts and the use and mixture of different types of fabrics. One of those names is Tianyi Li, the designer who with her beautiful has stepped in to latest Milan Fashion Week, and today is one of the best alumni of the Istituto Marangoni.
I would like you to tell us a little about your vision as a Chinese designer in the global fashion industry, and also to tell us a little about how your culture has influenced your creations, and the current success of Asians designers?
Being Chinese and growing up in the UK allowed me to embrace both Chinese and British culture. My cultural background has shaped my identity and affected how I see the world. It is important for me to incorporate my unique DNA and my own story through my designs. I think the fashion industry has become more open and supportive of Asian designers.
At what point in your life did you know you wanted to be a fashion designer and why did you choose London for your studies?
I had always loved to draw and paint since I was young. I chose fashion because I was fascinated in seeing my two-dimensional sketches develop into a three dimensional moving garment on a human body.
I have lived in London for many years and I love how diverse and international it is. For my MA studies I was fortunate enough to be scouted and awarded a scholarship to study at Istituto Marangoni’s London campus.
What has the Istituto Marangoni meant for your professional career? Tell us a little about your career there from your time as a student until now and let us know about your methodology and way of working.
Istituto Marangoni has been a great support to me from the start of my studies, during my studies and even after graduation. During my Masters Womenswear course I was able to work directly with professionals in the industry and get feedback straightaway. I learnt how to think and design from the brand’s perspective. Also, I was able to intern at Alexander McQueen (McQ) and Giles Deacon during my course. These internships allowed me to get first hand experience of what it is like to work in the fashion industry. I learnt the importance of teamwork and time management.
After graduation, I won the I’M Alumni Collections Revolution (2nd Edition), where I was able to get an unique mentorship from Istituto Marangoni in the production of my collection and to be able to have the chance to show at Milan Fashion Week.
What is the best lesson you learned about the design and execution of a label during your internships at Giles Deacon and Alexander McQueen?
Being able to multi-task and being able to cope with pressure.
From your perspective how would you define fashion?
Fashion is about expressing your identity, style and character.
What designers or other creatives inspire you?
Christian Lacroix, Gianfranco Ferre & Jean Paul Gaultier. Christian Lacroix, because of his use of fabric and colour and his strong ability to tell a story through his collections.
Each designer has to have his own style. How would you define yours and how important do you think it is to combine elements of Chinese trends with international ones in your designs?
My style is strong, romantic and feminine. I feel that my style will evolve and develop as I grow as a designer. I grew up with both Chinese and British cultures. I think it is important to embrace both cultures, not to be restricted by it.
Are you optimistic about young Chinese designers? How do you feel about the status of Chinese designers in the world of international fashion?
I am optimistic and I think the fashion industry has become more open and inclusive of Chinese designers to share their own story.
Today, in addition to the catwalk, street style is very important. In what way does street fashion inspire you?
Street fashion is great to see how individuals wear fashion in their everyday life, it is inspiring because it is always unique.
What kind of garment do you consider indispensable for this season?
A versatile shirt dress.
What is your position on the globalization of fashion, online shopping, and the media boom generated by social networks?
I think the fashion industry is growing at an increasing speed and it is constantly developing. Social media is great at showcasing new & emerging talent and it helps in creating exciting new opportunities.
If you had to go to another place to follow your professional growth, which place would you chose and why?
Since working on the I’M Alumni Collections Revolution I feel that Italy is a great place to develop professionally. There are great resources and professional factories to work with to create high quality products.
Do you have a current project in development or a project in the medium-long term?
I am currently working on my next collection and I hope to be able to gradually grow my brand in the future.
Words by Andy Durán.