A Fusion of East/West Perspectives From Past to Present

Written By Lena Sharpe, Photography by Elena Boyce

Guo Pei: Chinese Art and Couture

It was the privilege of the Asian Civilization Museum to showcase the extraordinary embroidered masterworks of China’s foremost fashion designer, Guo Pei during the summer. Famed for her dramatic, sculptural dress designs for celebrities, royalty and dignitaries, her creations include Rihanna’s trailing ‘Yellow Queen’ gown at the Met Ball in 2015. Guo is one of only two Asian designers to have gained entry to the prestigious Parisian Haute Couture scene. Hopefully you got a chance to see this lovely exhibit in person, but you may not have realized the designers own story.

Guo Pei: Chinese Art and Couture represented a dialogue between the ancient and modern, juxtaposing the contemporary designs of this famous couturier with Chinese works of art from the museum’s collections. She draws her inspiration from many forms of art. Her famous ‘Miss Universe 2012’ dress features the classic blue and white pattern of traditional porcelain – adorned with thousands of sparking Swarovski crystals – topped off with a stylish hat composed of a made-to-order porcelain vase.

Guo’s very own character is woven into the fabric of her aesthetics. Her love for sewing goes back to early childhood, when from the age of two, she helped her mother make clothes for the winter. In an era when the only designs deemed appropriate were rigid Mao suits, she defied convention with her loose, flowing designs.

In 1997, she launched her own label and atelier, Rose Studio, where she now employs more than 500 skilled craftsmen who dedicate thousands of hours bringing her stunning designs to life. Her artistic atelier is where fabric, shape and texture magically intertwine to produce meaning: each dress is a canvas that tells a story, inspired by fairy-tales, art, history and folklore, bringing the designer’s imagination to life.

Just as Guo Pei’s passion for extraordinary bespoke gowns has grown over the years, so has her larger-than-life reputation. It is thus no surprise that she was named one of the world’s 100 Most Influential People by Time Magazine in 2016.

The rare exhibition in Singapore sets the scene for the Museum’s theme for next year, Season of Chinese Art.

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