We live in a culture where we’re used to mediating and projecting our identity through photos of ourselves. With OOTD pics and front facing camera shots always just a quick scroll away, Instagram is, of course, both the reason for and result of our current frenzied self-documentation.
Reflecting on this, designer Yang Li decided to unveil his AW19 collection not via a show, presentation, or lookbook, but through IG posts. He reached out to a group of individuals who represented his brand, asking them to photograph themselves in a look or two from the collection. (Full disclosure: I was one of them.)
Each protagonist had an outfit shipped to them, and was tasked with capturing it in their own way. “They are all different in their own right with their own character but it’s the pride in individualism that connects them all… it’s what gives them strength,” said the designer of his choice of muses – “I wanted to have more than their faces in my ‘show’.” Savages frontwoman Jehnny Beth is pictured lounging on a bed, while performer and writer Stoya unzips her dress to reveal a tattoo. Cult heroine Rossy de Palma poses in a vinyl trench in a bathroom, and actress Aomi Muyock shoots a series in a garage.
I, meanwhile, showed up to Li’s showroom, got dressed with some help from stylist and Another Man fashion director Ellie Grace Cumming, and busied myself in a corner with a mirror while people came and went – this usually private activity of selfie-taking thus rendered strangely public.
"We live in an era where control over one's image is everything, and this is especially true for fashion,” explains Li of the idea behind the collection’s unusual unveiling. “I wanted to cede this control, to let go, to reverse this model, in order to create a more genuine method of storytelling.” Getting the images back, he says, was like opening presents on Christmas morning.