LONDON, United Kingdom — Gaining more traction in London this season, both Xiao Li and Huishan Zhanghave filled telling gaps in the city's fashion calendar, following the closure of local labels like Jonathan Saunders, Richard Nicoll and Meadham Kirchhoff. Zhang has made considerable waves since his 2011 debut by tuning into the British capital's more ladylike persuasion and honing a demure silhouette that recognises his Chinese heritage by way of subtle Oriental embellishments, modest lengths and precious fabrics that reflect his time spent in the Paris ateliers of Christian Dior.
His clothes could easily sit alongside the likes of Giambattista Valli, Emilia Wickstead and Erdem (which they do in a growing number of retailers fromBergdorf Goodman to Browns) and his latest offering gave a sense that he is shaking off his earlier use of Chinese tropes in favour of a more universal view of femininity.
For Autumn/Winter 2016, Zhang likened certain floral silks to Chinese porcelain, a vague link which nevertheless mingled beautifully with his geometric collage effects. 1950’s couture shapes meant a cacophony of ruffles and flouncing organza, adding sculptural, girly overtones to flared blouses and tiered dresses in colourful jacquards. (Their impact overshadowed the diamond-patterned outerwear that lacked the frisson of the more floaty, layered designs.) His strung pearl belts were a glamorous addition, nodding to the demi-couture bent that should remain Zhang’s focus rather than the feathers and fur that closed the collection.