Philip Li, one of our most stylish style advisors for International Womenswear in Knightsbridge, took centre stage in a recent Smirnoff promotion. We caught up with Philip to find out how he started performing as Le Fil and how he manages it all whilst working on the shop floor.
When did you join Harvey Nichols?
Around ten years ago! I was practically a baby when I started here as a temporary summer employee, and then I stayed on ever since. I am pretty much part of the Ladies International furniture, albeit just for the weekends. The best thing about Harvey Nichols is the supportive management and team, who have allowed me to do my own work while encouraging me to develop within the company – it's their support that has kept me here all these years. Plus I love working with clients and providing a super luxury service and environment for them – it’s like a performance. I love giving people a fabulous time!
How did you get involved in the Smirnoff video?
When I’m not in Harvey Nichols, I am a singer, performer and artist and I make music and pop shows – and after launching my first big headline show 24/7 LIVE last year, more opportunities started coming my way. Smirnoff were really keen to get real artists, and specifically not models - so when I got a call for the casting, I was super chuffed. They really wanted to celebrate gender fluidity and diversity in LGBTQ nightlife and culture and created this campaign around the artists.
Tell us about the filming?
Filming took about two days as there were several groups being filmed and photographed over several locations simultaneously. The process was great fun, as all the cast were super fabulous, queer, creative individuals – and it felt like we were all just hanging out and not working. I danced so much in the party scene that my light-up electric eyebrows kept sliding off my sweaty face, and the make up artist kept frantically trying to glue them back on, which kept holding up the takes. We’d hear the director shout over the speakers, deadly serious: “ETA on Le Fil’s eyebrows please? I need an ETA! How many seconds on her eyebrows?!!” – it was hilarious. Who knew eyebrows could create so much drama.
Who is Le Fil?
I am Le Fil – it’s my artist name. It basically is a shortened version of my birth name, and then turned into a sculptural object or creation, like ‘The Hoff’! Le Fil means ‘the thread’ in French, which I interpret as the continuing thread that links all my disciplines and work together. Also, it plays on a masculine appropriation of ‘la fille’, which means ‘the girl’ – so it represents my androgyny too. I’ve been making work under the name Le Fil for years. My social media is @iamlefil in case you fancy a peruse on your lunch breaks.
Who is your inspiration?
I have many inspirations – the most well known ones would include Andy Warhol, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Bjork, FKA Twigs, Christeene, Alexander McQueen, Terence Koh, Matthew Barney, Grace Jones, Rick Owens, Kylie and Beyonce – the latter both I’ve actually served on the shopfloor! Beyonce was so incredibly gracious and lovely - she touched my shoulder and told me I was cute. I died.