Guo Pei, the first Chinese designer to be invited to show during Paris Couture Week, is renowned for her exquisite embroidery. This year, her newest Haute Couture collection titled Legend, was presented at La Conciergerie. A fitting location for this year’s collection, La Conciergerie, now the home of law courts, was in its day, a prison. The very same prison where Marie Antoinette met the guillotine! Guo Pei’s collection, partly inspired by Madame Antoinette herself, included a show stopping gown that finished the procession. Worn by the oldest working model in the world, Carmen Dell’Orefice really looked like a Queen from Marie Antoinette’s age. Supported by two male ballet dancers, Carmen closed the show in ultimate elegance and decadence.
With the closing piece, Pei attempts to revive the traditional Chinese wedding dress. Traditionally seen in red and lavished with embroidery, appliqué and beading, the Chinese have since moved away from this, stemming from the days when embroidery and creativity were suppressed. When Pei first started designing many creators were afraid to design such things and now she feels it is time for China to come back to its roots. In the motion for tradition, although Pei has her prestigious atelier in Paris, each dress is handmade in China at her Beijing studio. Even the intricate embroidery that’s featured on many of her pieces is produced by her team of 300 skilled workers in China.
Guo Pei is most well known in China, her country of origin, but her brand name is gaining momentum through celebrity endorsements and collaborations. She designed the iconic canary yellow dress Rihanna wore to the 2015 Met Gala and many of the performer’s dresses at the Beijing Olympics. Most recently, Pei worked with Mac Cosmetics co-designing a makeup collection with seven dresses to accompany it.
Legend, a collection of twenty-one pieces, combines Pei’s ideas of devotion, religion and the importance of handicraft. She was inspired by the paintings and sculptures at St.Gallen’s cathedral in Switzerland and the ideas of the collection started to take shape before she even left the church. From this initial inspiration, Pei started to work her magic with her specialist embroidery techniques as well as working with metallic and memory fabric.
In addition to her Haute Couture collection, she also houses a V.I.P showroom at her Paris premise. V.I.P’s can book an appointment to view and customize the made to measure dresses on display. As each client is different, Pei makes a point of sitting down with each person, discussing their individual style and needs before taking measurements and choosing fabrics.