Valentina Li is not an artist. She is a face painter – on that she is adamant. Nevertheless, the fantastical looks she creates are brimming with imagination, colour, a sense of freedom from convention, and, yes, artistry. I think she will forgive us for saying that.
Originally from a small village in Guangxi in southwest China, Li studied make-up in Beijing and Paris, where she drew on her love of cosplay, sci-fi movies and historical body art as inspiration whilst honing the highly conceptual style that has since become her signature. After moving to Shanghai, her edgy, sometimes dark, sometimes futuristic looks attracted the attention of YSL, Vogue China, Mert Alas, and Erin Parsons, who she began assisting on shows including Jean Paul Gaultier and GCDS.
Despite the pandemic putting many of her plans on hold last year, Li has continued to collaborate on editorial projects with publications like Dazed China and Harper’s Bazaar China and had a busy AW21 season, keying looks for designers including Yuhan Wang and Susan Fang in London as well as Chinese label Windowsen.
Text Alex Peters