Now in her fifth year, Claudia Li referred to this collection as “Phase Two.” She considered it to be the “the essence of the past four years.” In other words, half a decade into the journey of her eponymous line, Li is a lot more comfortable in her own skin and with her work. She’s designing what she feels is authentic to who she is and mirrors what she wants out of fashion. The result for Spring was a collection that was heavily craft-oriented and fabulously technical.
On first blush, Li’s new lineup looked like something you might wear while gardening, or, better yet, drinking a mug of tea while looking out your window, imagining that if you had a little more time, you’d probably have a garden. Spring’s pieces took a second to grow on you, and they bloomed with meaning over the course of the show. One sumptuous cream sweater was activated by UV light, which soon revealed a print made from Li’s name. A calf-length pleated skirt turned out to be made of the same windbreaker fabric as its companion jacket. Then there was the collection’s tearjerker and highlight: a recurring photo print of Li’s parents in their 20s. In it, her mother stands shoeless on a rock in a little batik dress as her dad grins beside her. Both the batik pattern and the photo were duplicated in several garments, paying homage to Li’s past while leaning into the future.