Recently, Lacoste launches new porcelain polo shirts to the world that is designed by Chinese Li Xiaofeng. Li is a graduate of the Central Academy of Art and a Chinese porcelain aficionado for years, before this collaboration Li had already started incorporating authentic porcelain shards dating from the 14th to the 19th centuries into his work. Notable porcelain installations have included Military Parade, Playing Chess, and The Glorious Time.
The latest collaboration between Lacoste and contemporary artists, Li's contribution consists of one polo shirt made from 317 porcelain shards and one cotton polo shirt bearing a print of the artist’s porcelain-shard digital collage. At the sight of such bold design, the audience was no doubt left wondering what the company's founder, Rene Lacoste, would say about this radical interpretation of the 77-year-old brand.
Intrigued by Li’s project, “The Culture of Linked Porcelain Fragments,” the brand invited the artist to contribute to its new series, leading Li to design patterned porcelain shards, which were produced in the historic porcelain town Jingdezhen. To establish a conceptual connection between China and Lacoste, Li created a pattern that features the traditional Chinese floral motif the “Four Gentlemen” (which are the plum blossom, the orchid, the bamboo and the chrysanthemum) and Lacoste's signature crocodile logo. And surprisingly, although it weighs in at 33 pounds, the porcelain-shard polo shirt turns out to be wearable.
The production process for this shirt mimicked that of the ancient Chinese “Jinlv suit,” for which small jade plaques were sewn together with gilded thread. Beginning with design drawings, the artist then selected porcelain fragments for their shapes and patterns. After being honed, the fragments were sewn together with silver thread before reentering the kiln. The making of the porcelain polo shirt, which now ranks as the most expensive in Lacoste’s polo line, cost the artist three months of laborious work including several rounds of readjustment.
The other cotton polo shirt takes cues from the blue and white Guan-ware typical of the Qing dynasty’s Kangxi era, historically known as the golden age of Chinese porcelain art and craftsmanship. The print on the shirt depicts the happy early life of the artist's fellow baby boomers, a scene selected to convey a sense of happiness, youth, and abundance.