Chinese Couture: Guo Pei

Chinese Couture: Guo Pei

This exhibit is a must for anyone who wants to be inspired!  Wow!  Guo Pei: Couture Fantasy is currently on exhibit here in San Francisco’s Legion of Honor Museum.  Guo Pei is considered to be the premier couturier fashion designer in China, and her work spoke to me on many levels.  The museum displays her most influential collections from the past twenty years, and makes me want to see every piece she’s ever designed.  Guo Pei is my new super hero!  Her craftsmanship and her artistic approach to fashion design is extraordinary indeed, and I loved that each of the collections were influenced by meaningful aspects and personal observations in her life.  

Every design is a masterpiece on its own, and took thousands of hours to execute, literally.  I laughed to myself when I read, “Time to make: 3,000 hours” on one of the displays because I’m always so self conscious that I’ll spend too much time on a custom design.  (I have never billed a customer for my actual time, as it would be far too much) Guo Pei is renowned for her embroidery, and I see why,  as they are not merely embellishments which make the dresses spectacular, but each stitch and embroidered item are pieces of art on their own.  The workmanship is incredible.  As a textile designer, I was very drawn to the use of fibers and threads she chose, even gold.  She had silks custom woven to reflect undulating gold and painterly ceilings.  One of the fabrics was actually digitally printed with original artwork, yet was so subtle that it translucent and captured the light and movement of the dress in just the right way.  

I was most personally inspired by the designer’s quote, “ I use the weight of the clothes, the height of the shoes, and the unwieldiness of the dress to represent the inner strength and confidence of a woman”   Inspired by western culture and strong women, she even developed a collection with warrior themes.  I could feel her strength in these not so subtle bold warrior outfits as much as I could in her more delicate dresses and romantic dresses.  I love that she said that a woman has to be physically strong to wear her clothes, as many are made of gold and heavy fabrics.  It’s true! 

My words cannot even come close to expressing the beauty of this exhibit.  I encourage anyone in town to go see it.  It’s fabulous!  

Photo above is a detail of my favorite dress which was inspired by architecture.