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The Porcelain Dress By Fashion Designer Li Xiaofeng

You broke your grandma’s porcelain cup and you can never forgive yourself, I hear you say. Worry not! One of the many options for a second life for this cup is to make it into a dress! Let the porcelain dress by Li Xiaofeng inspire you and help you to forgive yourself.

Porcelain Dress by Li Xiaofeng

Li Xiaofeng is a Chinese designer known for his incredible porcelain creations representing the thin line between art and fashion. Born in Beijing, Li uses traditional ceramic pieces found on archaeological sites. He assembles the pieces into unique mid-length dresses, jackets, hats, shoes.

His style of work is described as Post-Orientalism. Tang Zehui, a curator at the Red Gate Gallery explains: ‘Li makes wearable porcelain costume and installation from ceramic shards coming from the Song, Ming, Yuan, and Qing dynasties, which are sewn together on a leather undergarment. Some of his projects include a suit jacket and tie as well as a number of mid-length women’s dresses.’

Li Xiaofeng Was The Designer Behind Lacoste Porcelain Polo

In 2010 Li Xiaofeng was commissioned to reinterpret the iconic polo shirt. This collaboration resulted in the 2010 Lacoste Holiday Collector’s Series. Li created a piece of art as well as two print designs for a limited edition of the Polo shirt (20,000 pieces for both men and women).

For the print editions, Li used white and blue porcelain from the Kangxi Period with a lotus and baby design. This type of ceramic reflects the Imperial taste which in that time was considered to be used only by the upper class since the blue background covering a white base was more laborious to make.

Print porcelain design by Li Xiaofeng for Lacoste polo

The lotus grows in mud underwater to surface a flower, symbolizing purity and rebirth. Babies represent fertility and were present as decorations. Since there was a high infant mortality rate during that period, the baby motive was bringing hope to people.

Li, in his usual manner of work, shaped and polished the shards. Then instead of drilling holes into them to be connected with wire, he photographed each of them and then assembled them into a pattern digitally to be ready for print.

The men’s polo print was made of 251 pieces and the women’s polo design from 304 pieces. The Lacoste white logo was added. The women’s look had a light blue collar while the men’s look was with a dark blue collar.

Li Xiaofeng also created a porcelain Polo that was exhibited in Paris at the Musée des Arts et Métiers and in Bejing at Li Xiaofeng’s first one-man show organized by the Red Gate Gallery. This was the first time Li has used new porcelain because China forbids the export of ancient artefacts including porcelain shards.

He painted the new porcelain, inspired by the Ming Dynasty, in an images of a scholar contemplating a scenic landscape surrounded by what in classical Chinese painting is referred to as the ‘Four Gentlemen’. These are an orchid, bamboo, chrysanthemum and plum blossom.

Painting of the ‘Four Gentlemen’ – Plum, Orchid, Bamboo and Chrysanthemum

Li chose to use red in addition to the Ming blue and white, as it represents blood and life force. Traditionally, Chinese brides wear red, so it is also a color associated with festivity and joy.

Red phoenix on LACOSTE Porcelain Polo, Li Xiaofeng

The Polo sculpture has a few distinctive features. Li drew the Lacoste crocodile logo and name as well as a phoenix, a symbol of good fortune, opportunity, and luck in Chinese culture. He also put traditional well-wishing expressions on the bows.

Interestingly, at the back of the art piece, Xiaofeng created two up-leveled parallel lines representing the scales of a crocodile through half-circle pieces of the bottoms of bows.

Lastly, Li placed at the center of the sculpture the inverted Lacoste logo following a Chinese tradition for good luck. The whole process, from painting to finished piece, took Xiaofeng more than three months.

Alexander McQueen Fall 2011 Ready-to-Wear by Sarah Burton

Li Xiaofeng’s artisan skill shone through one more time at the Ready-to-Wear collection from Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. Li creates two bustiers to become part of long gowns as well as the intricate platform boots and sandals complementing the looks.

Having enough background, it is time to get to the Porcelain Dress in question! Would You Dare To Wear…

The Porcelain Dress By Li Xiaofeng

In 2015 Li Xiaofeng was part of the Metropolitan Costume Institute exhibition “China: Through the Looking Glass”. The purpose of the exhibition was to illustrate the influence of Chinese culture on Western fashion. The exhibition got mixed feelings reviews but it was intriguing nonetheless.

Li had a porcelain dress at the exhibit named ‘The weight of the millennium’. Even though the reviews of this exhibition were mentioning Li’s ceramic dress as probably the only unwearable, there is proof that his creations are very much wearable.

Li Xiaofeng ‘The Weight of the Millennium’, photo Hiroko Masuike

Unfortunately, no one has reported yet whether you can sit in such a dress and how heavy (or not) it is. I’m curious. Anyone?

  • Art_Hong_Kong_fair_Li_Xiaofeng
  • Art Hong Kong fair Li Xiaofeng
  • wearable_porcelain_dress_by_Li_Xiaofeng_on_model
  • wearable porcelain dress by Li Xiaofeng on model

I have to ask. Would you dare to wear Li Xiaofeng’s dress? If so, which one and where would you go with it? As far as your grandma porcelain goes, if not a dress, you can assemble a print or you may just send it to Gésine Hackenberg and get back a beautiful memento.

Stay mindful!



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