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Main Image: Backstage at Fashion Scout, courtesy Deborah Iona

I-am-Chen's Complex Knitwear

Chinese designer I-Am-Chen at LFW

Zhi Chen, the diminutive designer behind I-am-Chen, is fast becoming the new queen of knit. Only in its fourth season, fresh from winning Fashion Scout’s One To Watch Award in 2017. The Hong Kong-based brand now returns to LFW a Fashion Scout Merit Award winner, following in the footsteps of names like David Koma, Phoebe English and Xiao Li.

Quite simply, Chen injects the fun into knitwear — a formula that is certainly working for her. While on the surface, not much appears to have changed since last season (the silhouettes and colour palette are reassuringly familiar), the designer is quitely experimenting with the seemingly endless and complex possibilities of yarn construction and fabric combinations.

She opens with her signature lycra knit, a dense box jacket and mini-skirt suit combo in grids of blue stripes and squares (appearing later in the collection in a dusty pink colour-way,) this season incorporating a metallic yarn to add extra contrast. What follows is a liquorice-box assortment of fine-knit, separates (her 20 looks comprise 86 pieces) in bold primary colours, as well as elegant and breezy summer dresses. Soft collared tennis tops are paired with intricately ribbed and pleated skirts or striped blazers harking back to the lounging days of the Great Gatsby, while Chen’s keen eye for accessories is evident in the styling: headbands emblazoned with her moniker, large, floppy sun-hats and occasional bags top off looks.

The introduction of an extremely fine silk, made using 18 gauge knitting machines, means the brand can stay relevant during the summer months.“People ask us ‘what can we do for Spring/Summer in knit?’ but in fact there is so much,” Zhi says breezily after the show. “But you definitely have to understand the yarn in order to play with it.” And play with it she certainly does.