Guo Pei & the Accidental Art of Courting Attention

“Celebrities are the fashion trend-setters of today,” said Guo Pei, the Chinese couturier who ought to know. Rihanna wore what become an internet meme of a dress, the Yellow Queen gown, to the Met Ball in 2015 and suddenly Pei was thrust on to the world’s stage.

“Many young people look up to celebrities as their role models. I feel their strong social influence also comes with great responsibility, and it is a huge responsibility to shoulder. The image they project can have a positive effect on cultural development and influence social welfare,” warned Pei.

The designer was in London this month to celebrate the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Fashion in Motion series (a platform for both established and up-and-coming designers to show their collections to the public), which turns 20 this year.

The designer showcased her highly imaginative and fantastical creations – which are known to take some time to make a turn on the catwalk, such is their extravagance and architectural splendour.

“My work usually involves two aspects. One aspect is designing my couture collections which does not involve too many practical considerations on my part,” she acknowledged. “I am free to design and express my creativity as I wish. The other aspect is designing for my clients. The right design can accentuate their most beautiful side,” she explained.

When it came to the Rihanna dress, she said she didn’t set out to court the publicity that subsequently came with it. “I did not know of her nor her influence. But the exposure from the media brought my work a wider audience, understanding, and recognition.”

Something she said seems to chime more in the West than it does in her native China. “In the West, my audience comes from all nationalities and cultural backgrounds. Their understanding of my culture may not be as direct as the Chinese audience. My designs translate into a language that I use to communicate with them.”

China is obviously still very important to her. It is where she began her career and honed her skills. “I hope that people will not only pay attention to us, but also promote the development of couture alongside us.”

Which she does through her twice-yearly couture shows in Paris; for her, they are of the utmost importance. “It may not have brought me awards or approval of others in the past,” she said. But: “It is vital for a designer’s work to speak for itself. This is what I tend to focus on.” And Paris is the place for that.

While the Rihanna moment was undoubtedly beneficial, Pei is level-headed about it and is less inclined to consider herself a celebrity designer. “I think celebrity designers are defined by others. I care more about the value of my work which should withstand the test of time.”

Yet, she still considers herself very much a newcomer. “I have been a designer for 30 years, and established my brand for more than 20 years,” she told us. But she thinks that’s nothing “compared to the masters of couture like Pierre Cardin or Valentino.”

Showcasing at the Victoria & Albert Museum was something of a full-circle for Pei who used to visit exhibitions there as a child whenever she travelled to London. “I saw many that inspired and moved me. These memories have all shaped my design inspirations. Coming back this time as a designer and bringing my work to London is a wonderful feeling!”

SHARE
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
SIMILAR ARTICLES
Zalando To Only Sell Sustainable Brands By 2023
By Rebecca Hitchon
Europe’s leading online fashion platform Zalando has become the first retailer to adopt the...
By Rebecca Hitchon
Europe’s leading online fashion platform Zalando has become the first retailer to adopt the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s (SAC) latest version of the Higg Brand and Retail Module (Higg BRM), a tool allowing the assessment of the ethical and environmental performance of brands. The Higg BRM...
Europe’s leading online fashion platform Zalando has become the first retailer to adopt the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s (SAC) latest version of the Higg Brand and Retail Module (Higg BRM), a tool allowing the assessment of the ethical and environmental performance of brands. The Higg BRM evaluates areas like human rights, wage parity and carbon dioxide emissions.Zalando’s partner brands...
Maria Host-Ivessich and Alessandro Gualtieri Talk Extremes in Perfumery
By Maria Host-Ivessich
In Nowfashion's newly-minted column on scents, self-defined ''perfume-nerd'' and director Maria...
By Maria Host-Ivessich
In Nowfashion's newly-minted column on scents, self-defined ''perfume-nerd'' and director Maria Host-Ivessich delves into the role of perfumes in this decade and 'socially-acceptable scents' with anarchist Nasomatto master perfumer Alessandro Gualtieri.Alessandro, you are known for your genuine...
In Nowfashion's newly-minted column on scents, self-defined ''perfume-nerd'' and director Maria Host-Ivessich delves into the role of perfumes in this decade and 'socially-acceptable scents' with anarchist Nasomatto master perfumer Alessandro Gualtieri.Alessandro, you are known for your genuine inclination to push towards the edge, to be and without being defined. Our noses are (now more than...
Aurora James Has A Plan to Support Black-Owned Businesses In The Long Run
By Elisa Carassai
As ongoing police brutality protests continue around the world, fashion and beauty companies are...
By Elisa Carassai
As ongoing police brutality protests continue around the world, fashion and beauty companies are finally lending a helping hand - whether its through donations to anti-racism organizations or promoting Black creators through their platforms or spreading awareness about educational resources...
As ongoing police brutality protests continue around the world, fashion and beauty companies are finally lending a helping hand - whether its through donations to anti-racism organizations or promoting Black creators through their platforms or spreading awareness about educational resources available online and offline. Nonetheless, what can one do to ensure these efforts aren’t quickly...
The LF Markey Success Story
By Jessica Bumpus
By now, it’s well documented and widely known that London...
By Jessica Bumpus
By Jessica Bumpus
By now, it’s well documented and widely known that London is a fashion capital brimming with talent, creativity and exciting designers. Historically, its resume speaks for itself. But it’s also well known that so often, many of those designers and new...
By now, it’s well documented and widely known that London is a fashion capital brimming with talent, creativity and exciting designers. Historically, its resume speaks for itself. But it’s also well known that so often, many of those designers and new names don’t and can’t survive, gone as quickly as the hype that surrounds them. The current economic...
Meet Halpern’s Fashion Escapism
By Alice Ierace
“I wasn’t one of those people who knew I always wanted to be a designer.  I always loved clothes,...
By Alice Ierace
“I wasn’t one of those people who knew I always wanted to be a designer.  I always loved clothes, and the idea of fashion from a young age; my mother is superbly glamorous and had great style,” tells us Michael Halpern, founder of the eponymous brand Halpern.“I loved fashion magazines, and...
“I wasn’t one of those people who knew I always wanted to be a designer.  I always loved clothes, and the idea of fashion from a young age; my mother is superbly glamorous and had great style,” tells us Michael Halpern, founder of the eponymous brand Halpern.“I loved fashion magazines, and listening to my mother and her friends talk about what life was like in the 1970s of New York, it was a...
Adidas and Allbirds Collaborate on Lowest Carbon Emissions Shoe
By Rebecca Hitchon
Sportswear brand adidas has teamed up with footwear company Allbirds to develop a sports...
By Rebecca Hitchon
Sportswear brand adidas has teamed up with footwear company Allbirds to develop a sports performance shoe with the lowest ever carbon footprint.Despite being competitors, the brands want the future of the footwear industry to be more about collaboration than competition. “There is an urgent need...
Sportswear brand adidas has teamed up with footwear company Allbirds to develop a sports performance shoe with the lowest ever carbon footprint.Despite being competitors, the brands want the future of the footwear industry to be more about collaboration than competition. “There is an urgent need to reduce our global carbon number, and this mission is bigger than just Allbirds or adidas. Whether...
Gary Green’s Black And White Photographs Delve into NYC’s Punk and Post-Punk Scene
By Sasha Regazzoni
It was the summer of 1976 when American photographer Gary Green moved from the humdrum suburbs of...
By Sasha Regazzoni
It was the summer of 1976 when American photographer Gary Green moved from the humdrum suburbs of Long Island to a two-bedroom apartment in Lower Manhattan, the epicentre of the up and coming anarchistic wave of music known as ‘punk’, to work as a photographer assistant. Coincidentally it was...
It was the summer of 1976 when American photographer Gary Green moved from the humdrum suburbs of Long Island to a two-bedroom apartment in Lower Manhattan, the epicentre of the up and coming anarchistic wave of music known as ‘punk’, to work as a photographer assistant. Coincidentally it was also the year the Ramones released their first album and punk idols Patti Smith, Television and Richard...
Issey Miyake Releases Exclusive Documentary
By Alice Ierace
Issey Miyake released an unpublished docu-film that shows the birth and evolution of the...
By Alice Ierace
Issey Miyake released an unpublished docu-film that shows the birth and evolution of the collection Homme Plissé Issey Miyake and shares a message of freedom, movement and comfort as new codes for men's clothing.Opening with a scene from Flying Bodies, a video that captures the 2013 performance...
Issey Miyake released an unpublished docu-film that shows the birth and evolution of the collection Homme Plissé Issey Miyake and shares a message of freedom, movement and comfort as new codes for men's clothing.Opening with a scene from Flying Bodies, a video that captures the 2013 performance of the Aomori University Men's Rhythmic Gymnastics Team which marks the debut of the collection, the...