Artist Uses Hundreds of Shards of Chinese Porcelain to Create “Wearable” Art

Li Xiaofeng Porcelain Dresses

‘Beijing Memory No. 5,' 2009, Qing period shards

Chinese contemporary artist Li Xiaofang uses porcelain to make wearable art that pays homage to China's past while looking toward the future. Xiaofang takes hundreds of shards of porcelain, some dating back to the Song, Ming, and Qing dynasties, and puzzles them together into magnificent porcelain dresses. His wearable art acts as both a coat of armor and a sculptural masterpiece.

Xiaofang sews together the shards using thin metal wire, and each is lined with a leather undergarment. Looking at the artist's work, it's impossible not to marvel at the precision and care taken, not only to find the exact shapes to form the curves of the dresses, but also how the pattern and color of the porcelain are used to create new shades and silhouettes. But Xiaofang doesn't only limit himself to porcelain dresses, he's also experimented with creating suit jackets, pants, blouses, and even a military hat.

The Beijing-based artist has seen his work exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and has engaged in collaborations with fashion giants like Lacoste and Alexander McQueen. A visionary in his field, his work was by the rapid development engulfing Beijing. “These blue shards, bathed in the sunny skies of socialism and caressed by the contemporary cool breezes blowing from the west throughout the capital, assume a bewildering array of postures as fashion items entering the new century,” the artist once stated. “These are the blue-and-white costumes! These emanate the splendor once crushed! These are the illusions flowing with sorrow!”

Li Xiaofang uses hundreds of porcelain shards to create wearable art that speaks to China's history while marrying it to the present.

Li Xiaofeng Wearable Art

‘Fission Time,' 2018, Ming and Qing period shards

Dress Made of Porcelain by Li Xiaofeng

‘Light Fades into the Rainbow,' 2007, Qing period shards

Porcelain Dress by Li Xiaofeng

‘Phoenix No. 1, 2011,' Under-glaze red shards

Dress Made of Porcelain by Li Xiaofeng

‘Past Presence No. 3,' 2016, porcelain

Li Xiaofeng Wearable Art

‘Classical,' 2008, Song period shards

Wearable Art by Li Xiaofeng

‘Phoenix No. 2,' 2011, Under-glaze red shards

Li Xiaofeng Chinese Artist

‘Hernit Shell,' 2015, porcelain and stainless steel

My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Red Gate Gallery.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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