Founded in 2010, Shang Xia is a brand whose name means “as above, so below”: a point of harmonious balance between ostensibly oppositional poles on whatever spectrum. So there is a happy harmony in hearing that the house has announced Vogue Runway regular Yang Li (who is actually still pretty darned young) as its new creative director.
The transnational synergy between brand and new man looks pretty promising. Shang Xia was from the off a joint venture between Hermès and ongoing creative director Qiong Er Jiang. Slowly and steadily, Hermès-style, it carved a distinct niche within the roiling and rapidly-changing Chinese luxury market as a point of consistency, craftsmanship, and high design. Then last December, it gained an even broader identity when Exor, the holding company of Italy’s Agnelli dynasty, accelerated into the picture to acquire a majority stake in the house. As the owner of disparate blue-chip cultural commodities from The Economist to Ferrari, Exor and the Agnellis are well-versed in managing brands with a global reach.
Yang Li seems a strong fit within the broader identity of the business he is signing up to. Born in Beijing, he emigrated to Perth, Australia, as a nipper, then moved to London to attend Central Saint Martins before interning at Raf Simons. He launched his eponymous brand in 2010, and by the time of its first Vogue Runway review in 2013, Maya Singer concluded: “Li’s aesthetic is wholly his own.”
How that wholly-his aesthetic will harmonize with Shang Xia’s own codes will become clear on October 4th, when the house holds its first-ever show at Paris Fashion Week. As a longtime reviewer of Yang’s collections myself, it’s great to see this creatively independent designer, whose tastes from music to art are wholly countercultural, get the backing of a house to which he seems—at least on paper—so serendipitously suited.