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
Travelling without moving at Armani Privé
By Gianluca Cantaro
“The idea of this show originated from a memory. In 1990 I used an ikat blanket I found in a flea...
By Gianluca Cantaro
“The idea of this show originated from a memory. In 1990 I used an ikat blanket I found in a flea market to tailor three jackets for the spring summer collection”, explained Giorgio Armani before the Privé show. “What I liked about this particular technique was the blurred effect of the motifs,...
“The idea of this show originated from a memory. In 1990 I used an ikat blanket I found in a flea market to tailor three jackets for the spring summer collection”, explained Giorgio Armani before the Privé show. “What I liked about this particular technique was the blurred effect of the motifs, the fact that the decorations were never well defined and I conveyed this concept by concealing the...
The Show Must Go On
By Elisabeta Tudor
Ready-to-wear fashion shows by top brands are often elaborate star-studded affairs. Haute Couture...
By Elisabeta Tudor
By Elisabeta Tudor
Ready-to-wear fashion shows by top brands are often elaborate star-studded affairs. Haute Couture shows, however, take the glitz and glamour to an entirely different level, and Paris' currently on-going high fashion extravaganza is no exception. Speaking of glitz and glam: over his 50-year-long...
Ready-to-wear fashion shows by top brands are often elaborate star-studded affairs. Haute Couture shows, however, take the glitz and glamour to an entirely different level, and Paris' currently on-going high fashion extravaganza is no exception. Speaking of glitz and glam: over his 50-year-long career, Jean Paul Gaultier has excelled at staging fun-filled Haute Couture shows at his headquarters...
Can Haute Couture Survive In The New Decade?
By Elisabeta Tudor
The answer is plain and simple: it has to, as the craftsmanship it is based on carries the hope...
By Elisabeta Tudor
The answer is plain and simple: it has to, as the craftsmanship it is based on carries the hope for a plausible form of sustainable fashion. And, according to the first Spring/Summer 2020 shows in Paris, there is a growing interest for Haute Couture itself and the levels of craftsmanship and...
The answer is plain and simple: it has to, as the craftsmanship it is based on carries the hope for a plausible form of sustainable fashion. And, according to the first Spring/Summer 2020 shows in Paris, there is a growing interest for Haute Couture itself and the levels of craftsmanship and textile innovation it implies. In fact, the Paris Haute Couture Week – which has just started today –...
Dior's Peplos-Wearing Feminists
By Gianluca Cantaro
Once again, Maria Grazia Chiuri proposed her...
By Gianluca Cantaro
By Gianluca Cantaro
Once again, Maria Grazia Chiuri proposed her feminist manifestos at today's Dior's Haute Couture show. This season, the 80-year-old American feminist artist Judy Chicago, who has been investigating the role of women in history and culture in her work....
Once again, Maria Grazia Chiuri proposed her feminist manifestos at today's Dior's Haute Couture show. This season, the 80-year-old American feminist artist Judy Chicago, who has been investigating the role of women in history and culture in her work. Chicago’s work inspired Chiuri, who collaborated with the French Maison on a series of exclusive...
At Lanvin Corto Maltese Got the Look
By Gianluca Cantaro
Bruno Sialelli, Creative Director at Lanvin, finally shook off the Loewe imprinting that was...
By Gianluca Cantaro
Bruno Sialelli, Creative Director at Lanvin, finally shook off the Loewe imprinting that was blurring his vision and delivered a Hugo Pratt's Corto Maltese inspired collection marking a substantial design switch from the previous ones, that somewhat resembled his past job at the Spanish brand....
Bruno Sialelli, Creative Director at Lanvin, finally shook off the Loewe imprinting that was blurring his vision and delivered a Hugo Pratt's Corto Maltese inspired collection marking a substantial design switch from the previous ones, that somewhat resembled his past job at the Spanish brand. Sialelli continued the collaboration with cartoonists, started when he first took the helm of the...
Paris Unveils a Man in All His Greatness
By Frédéric Martin-Bernard
At the beginning of the menswear season in Paris,...
By Frédéric Martin-Bernard
By Frédéric Martin-Bernard
At the beginning of the menswear season in Paris, Alexandre Mattiussi made a statement by celebrating the 9th anniversary of his label Ami with a birthday party that notably featured accordion music, red velvet curtains, and movie sets. The following day,...
At the beginning of the menswear season in Paris, Alexandre Mattiussi made a statement by celebrating the 9th anniversary of his label Ami with a birthday party that notably featured accordion music, red velvet curtains, and movie sets. The following day, Tahliah Debrett Barnett, aka FKA Twigs, performed live during Valentino's latest menswear show....
Paris Menswear’s Final Bow
By Marta Represa & Elisabeta Tudor
It might be a Fashion Week Sunday, but for Alejandro Gómez...
By Marta Represa & Elisabeta Tudor
By Marta Represa & Elisabeta Tudor
It might be a Fashion Week Sunday, but for Alejandro Gómez Palomo, that’s no excuse to forego church. The Andalusian designer reconnected with the Catholic heritage of his native Spain and turned a minimal concrete space in the 19ème arrondissement into...
It might be a Fashion Week Sunday, but for Alejandro Gómez Palomo, that’s no excuse to forego church. The Andalusian designer reconnected with the Catholic heritage of his native Spain and turned a minimal concrete space in the 19ème arrondissement into his own temple by having his models walk while carrying thuribles loaded with incense and Paschal...
Loewe's Playful Wardrobe
By Gianluca Cantaro
"I wanted to be optimistic and joyful,” explained Creative...
By Gianluca Cantaro
By Gianluca Cantaro
"I wanted to be optimistic and joyful,” explained Creative Director Jonathan Anderson after the Loewe show. "I imagined a child that plays with mom's ball gown in front of the mirror, giving a 2D effect to the 3D object.” Being positive is often...
"I wanted to be optimistic and joyful,” explained Creative Director Jonathan Anderson after the Loewe show. "I imagined a child that plays with mom's ball gown in front of the mirror, giving a 2D effect to the 3D object.” Being positive is often synonymous with being light-hearted, something that lets you enjoy life (and clothes) as it is without any...