The haute couture world is shaking up. In a three-part series, Couture Youthquake, Tatler speaks to demi-couture masterminds about their journeys.
It only takes one glance to see that Windowsen is all about couture for the future. A young label founded by Chinese designer Sensen Lii in 2019, Windowsen takes its name from the Windows operating system and the founder’s name. Sci-fi, gaming, sports and couture craftsmanship clash unexpectedly in Lii’s out-of-the-world silhouettes, with cascading tulle gowns and dramatic hues that are often described as “alien couture” and “spatial fashion”.
Couture fans may know that the concept of “alien couture” can be traced back to the late French couturier Thierry Mugler and his bizarre yet visionary creations, or André Courrèges and Pierre Cardin’s interstellar adventures with space-age fashion. While a popular approach to couture is to dig into archives and bring vintage designs to life in the present, Li, like these visionaries, prefers to rely on pure imagination and create wholly new designs. “Since building Windowsen from my studies at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp, I’ve focused on expanding its universe; every season is a different perspective looking into it,” Lii says.
His spring-summer 2022 ready-to-wear collection, for example, is an introduction to the different species and inhabitants on planet Windowsen. Dubbed “Monster Heart” and presented at Shanghai Fashion Week last October, the collection has propelled Lii into the public eye, his avant-garde designs and imagination challenging any pre-conceieved notions or stereotypes when it comes to Chinese fashion.
The designer places a strong emphasis on personality, and has been casting “everyday” people instead of industry models for his shows and campaigns since his debut. An inclusive cast of models including musicians, drag queens and dancers walked down in motocross-inspired outerwear, chunky sandals with decorative toenail motifs; with crystal embellished makeup and even “robot” legs. One dress in particular features over 2.5 million Preciosa crystals with high double splits and chain details, staying true to the craftsmanship-heavy nature of demi-couture.