Haute couture luminary Guo Pei, needs no further introduction. The sheer amount of dedication and patience she pours into her gowns is mind-blowing. I managed to come close to her works twice on our tiny red dot this year – first, during her “Ci” collection at Digital Fashion Week, and most recently, her “Legend of the Dragon” collection at Fide Fashion Week. Francis Bacon once said, “Fashion is only the attempt to realize art in living forms and social intercourse.” Indeed, Guo Pei’s collection is synonymous with art. Her fashion pieces feature ground-breaking structure and intricate finishings that enshroud the audience in oriental mysticism.
The charm of her 25 lavish pieces was complemented by the specially crafted dragon backdrop for the runway. Her favourite piece of “Legend of the Dragon”, a bell-shaped gown with gold detailing, is the epitome of haute couture as it took her 50,000 man hours to create.
Embroidery flows like a precious waterfall, acrylic mirrors bring back the Disco age, and every fine detail becomes a mini-architecture project on a fabulous dress.
Describe your collection.
Guo Pei: There are 2 components to all my collections. One component is service – to fulfill people’s dream and aspirations.
The other smaller collection, which was showcased on the runway, to me is a representation of “no restrictions”. A collection where I can go wild with my creations, pick any model I like, how I want the stage to be designed etc. This truly represents my collection which aims to convey the story that I want to share.
Tell us more about how you ended up in Haute Couture?
Guo Pei: I stumbled upon this profession many years back, and have unknowingly established my personal style in the world of Haute Couture. Haute Couture has its own style and feature and I interpret in my own traditional Chinese way. To date, I have been in this industry for more than a decade, and have established my own style over the year, which includes – the technique and aim for perfection. In fact, I have never done any comparisons of myself with other couturiers.
Overlapping pins and beads, colourful embroideries, exquisitely decorated ornaments, dreamy gauze, soft design – gorgeous artistic works of fashion are sewn with numerous parts in a marvellous way.
The impulsive beauty that used to attract her the most – the kind that would have faded right after a twinkle of an eye – is gradually replaced by the beauty of life, the beauty of continuity, and the beauty of eternity.
When you first started out, surely there were influences that inspired you. Who were your influences then?
Guo Pei: Fashion only began to evolve in China in the recent 30 years. It’s been 16 years since I left the clothing company which I was working for and started out my own label. That was also the period where fashion was introduced to China.
My designs then, originated from my desire to design a flawless and complete dress. I want to design a dress that is not restricted by sales numbers and profits, which back then, is something that was not in demand and will not be worn by anyone.
How do you see your label 5 years from now?
Guo Pei: 5 years to me is a phase where I will establish the significance and importance of a traditional wedding dress. The preferred choice of wedding gowns these days for ladies is always the Westernized, white wedding gown. I believe, in 5 years’ time, trends will change. And I hope by then, these soon-to-be brides will choose to pick their tribe’s traditional wedding gown.
I have not thought about how far I will go or how much more I want to achieve in the future. For now, all I want to focus on is to create a traditional wedding gown that will represent my tribe and country.
It feels like discovering a fine route at the end of rough paths, or finding yourself on the top of clouds after jumping off the cliff. It takes enduring efforts and sincere bravery to persist in true perfection – and that is the essence of Haute Couture.
For more pictures of the “Legend of the Dragon” collection, check out our Facebook album.