On-The-Ground Coverage By Nels Frye ()
Amidst the countless details on the porcelain polo, the most central is the point where the phoenix meets the crocodile above the collar. Li Xiaofeng points to this as a point where the emblems of East and West meet. The Lacoste logo represents the West and the phoenix is a traditional symbol of imperial China.
I think that when considering this piece – especially as a commentary on the Lacoste logo – it helps to remember its predecessor: last year’s super-limited edition Campana Brother’s polo, of which there are 24 in the world. As commentaries on branding and logos, how do these compare?
There are Chinese-style crocodiles throughout the piece as well. These red and blue beasts are Li’s own creation and they serve as a contrast to the Lacoste logos seen throughout the piece. Li painted most of the surfaces of the porcelain polo while some of the shards used are from existing vases.
The Chinese characters for cold (冷) and hot (热) appear all over the back of the polo. This was inspired by a moment of rapid temperature change from hot to cold experienced by Li Xiaofeng while he was showering in Jingdezhen, China’s porcelain capital and the place he goes to gather many of his pot shards. This moment caused him to reflect on the relationship between clothing and perceptions of temperature. For his part, he finds the Lacoste polo is often not warm enough for wearing in air-conditioned offices.
In addition to producing the porcelain polo, unlikely to be worn or re-produced,, Lacoste asked Li Xiaofeng to design some cotton polos for the Holiday Collector’s Series 2010. He came out with two designs, one for men and one for women. Some changes will still be made – Li Xiaofeng says the colors are not quite right – but the print will be the same as what you see here. The final version will be produced in a limited edition of 20,000.
The print is based on blue and white shards from the Kangxi Period (1662-1722) of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912), a time when both China and the art of porcelain production were at their apogee. According to Li Xiaofeng, it was a glorious period for his country, somewhat like the present.
This print represents happiness and exuberant youth in the eyes of Li Xiaofeng. Originally the reason for images of babies was to promote the births and good health of children in an era of high infant mortality. Li points out that joy continues exist even in a life that is always faced with difficulties, a life where we must continually reassemble the pieces after setbacks. Li photographed each of the shards and placed them in life-sized digital pattern of each part of the polo.
Lacoste is using its highest end white crocodile logo for this special edition.
The Jing Daily team would like to thank Nels Frye for his Paris dispatches. Be sure to keep an eye on Nels’s work on his blog, Stylites in Beijing.