Next in Line

Rebecca Voight tracks four designers to watch.

Isabel Benenato

Andrea Jiapei Li After competing on China’s version of Project Runway, Andrea Jiapei Li, 25, ended up at New York’s Parsons School of Design; one of the school’s deans was a judge on the show. Li’s eccentric graduation collection of oversize women’s wear was picked up by Rei Kawakubo’s Dover Street Market in New York, enabling Li to continue experimenting. For fall, there are dresses in unexpected fabric combinations such as mesh, neoprene, and vinyl, accented with macramé knotting and phrases like i try to find myself running down sleeves and across hems. “Clothes can convey emotions,” Li says. “Almost like people.” Courtesy of designer.


Andrea Jiapei Li Fall 2015. Courtesy of designer.


Sandy Liang For Sandy Liang, ideas come from the street. A few months ago, for instance, the designer, who lives on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, spotted a girl in a great shearling jacket. “The next day, I had a sketch ready,” Liang, 24, says. The resulting patchwork coat has a streamlined wool front and curly lambskin back. Now in its third season, her line is both girly and tomboyish—think slip dresses over flared jeans, inspired by the grandmothers she sees in Chinatown. Liang also has a thing for biker jackets: She has covered a Perfecto version with daisies and beefed up another with Mongolian-lamb sleeves. “The older they get,” she says of the jackets, “the better they are.” Courtesy of designer.


Sandy Liang Fall 2015. Courtesy of designer.


Isabel Benenato The fact that Isabel Benenato, 35, found inspiration for her most recent collection in Italian folklore is not surprising. The designer comes from a long line of Neapolitan tailors and produces in Lucca, Tuscany, with a small team that functions like a family. After fashion school, she took a job with a leather atelier in Florence, then launched her eponymous label with her husband, Filippo Novelli, in 2008; she added men’s wear in 2011, and shoes will debut next year. “What I like is having an idea and being able to try it right away, rather than crossing the globe to have something made,” Benenato says. Gives new meaning to the term “fast fashion.” Courtesy of designer.


Isabel Benenato Fall 2015. Courtesy of designer.


Hugo Matha “I wanted designs that take on a patina over time,” says Hugo Matha of his clutches and structured handbags. The 24-year-old Frenchman began creating bags three seasons ago, after completing fashion studies at Paris’s Ecole Duperré. Initially, he worked with Plexiglas and exotic skins but ultimately rediscovered the natural materials that surrounded him growing up in the Aveyron region of France. The unexpectedly lightweight bags, which he developed with the help of a furniture craftsman, are covered in thin sheets of slate, walnut, or marais oak—a charcoal-like fossilized wood from uprooted trees that have been submerged in swamps for centuries. This fall, Matha will move on to a new challenge: He’s partnered with the luxury glovemaker Maison Causse to make black leather gloves embellished with trapunto quilting and mink insets—just the thing to grip a rugged purse. Courtesy of designer.


Hugo Matha Fall 2015. Courtesy of designer.