In 2015 pop singer Rihanna stole the show at the annual event, sometimes referred to as the ‘Oscars of fashion’, appearing on the stairs of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in a bold yellow fur-trimmed cape dress with an enormous train.
The moment brought the world’s attention to the work of Guo Pei, who created the gown, a fitting choice given the event’s theme that year was “China: Through the Looking Glass”.
Of course, the designer had already gained significant respect in fashion circles, dressing a long list of clients in Beijing’s highest political, celebrity, media and social circles since establishing her brand in 1997.
But it was the ‘Yellow Queen gown’ that made the world sit up and take notice. Weighing 25kg, with a 16ft train, and featuring over 50,000 hour’s worth of hand embroidery, the dress took two years to make. It is indicative of the highly detailed and technical design and bold use of colour the designer excels at.
“I’m so in love with this dress, but the train is insane!” Rihanna told Vanity Fair on the red carpet. “I can’t really walk in it without any help—but it’s so worth it. I love this dress so much! “I was researching Chinese couture on the Internet and I found it,” she enthused.
The dress will be the star of the show at Guo Pei: Fashion, Art, Fantasy 郭培：时装之幻梦 at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki from December 9.
More than 60 of the designer’s stunning garments, created between 2005 and 2020, make up the show, which will run in Auckland for five months.
Director of Auckland Art Gallery Kirsten Lacy says she is thrilled to bring the extraordinary work of Guo Pei to New Zealand audiences for the first time.
‘This exhibition celebrates one of the world’s most renowned couturiers. Guo Pei’s extravagant ensembles are works of art, incorporating extraordinary fabrics and exquisite embroidery, and capturing influences from across the world. Each piece has been created with intricate skill and precision, representing thousands of hours of dedication and remarkable artistry.’
Drawing her themes from nature, mythology, and European and Asian clothing traditions, Guo Pei will lead viewers on a wondrous journey through dream worlds, magical gardens, and cosmic landscapes.
Guo Pei says, ‘I am delighted that visitors of Auckland Art Gallery will experience my works spanning many years. As visitors walk through the exhibition, I hope they will be able to empathise with how I felt creating these works, as well as my passion towards different cultures all around the world.’
A book dedicated to Guo Pei’s work as well as a selection of Guo Pei designed scarves, ceramics, Barbie dolls and gifts will be available at the exhibition.
- Guo Pei: Fashion, Art, Fantasy 郭培：时装之幻梦 runs from Saturday 9 December 2023 – Sunday 5 May 2024 at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki.