CELEBRATING the 20th anniversary of Fashion in Motion, the V&A will be hosting a landmark presentation by Chinese couturier Guo Pei in the museum’s Raphael Gallery. Famed for designing Rihanna’s yellow gown worn at the 2015 Met Gala, Guo Pei is one of China’s most renowned designers, dressing celebrities and even royalty for over 20 years. The show will be Guo Pei’s first ever in the UK and will showcase looks from her AW20 Alternate Universe Couture collection.
One of Guo Pei’s signature gowns
High drama on the Guo Pei catwalk
For the last 20 years the V&A’s Fashion in Motion series has brought together catwalk shows by leading international designers to the public. Previous designers featured in its 20-year history have included Alexander McQueen, Ashish, Christian Lacroix, Erdem, Jean Paul Gaultier, Kenzo, Missoni, Molly Goddard, Vivienne Westwood and Yohji Yamamoto.
Twins bound by tapestry on the Guo Pei catwalk
Creepy crawly couture on the Guo Pei catwalk
Guo Pei first presented her Alternate Universe collection at this year’s Paris Couture Week. The collection is based on the concept of a new universe where light and darkness co-exist. Her signature three-dimensional embroidery techniques and structural designs draw inspiration from myths, fables, religious texts and the beauty of natural life – from the monkeys of Aesop’s Fables to the poisonous snake which lured Eve to steal the forbidden fruit. Her designs are feminine and flowing, in rebellion against her upbringing where standard dress was austere Mao suiting. These were utilitarian without any form of decadence, whereas Guo Pei’s designs feature accents of gold, symbolising wealth and prosperity.
Paganistic motifs feature heavily on the Guo Pei catwalk
A pagan high priestess on the Guo Pei catwalk
In 2016 Guo Pei had her first solo exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris and, later that year, became the first and only Chinese Guest Member of the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode. Named one of TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, one of Business of Fashion’s 500 most influential people, and with a new studio in Paris, Guo Pei’s prominence in the fashion industry continues to grow.
Speaking about the show, Guo Pei said: “I am very pleased to be the featured designer of V&A’s Fashion in Motion 20th anniversary show. The V&A is a historic platform, preserving and celebrating art and design in many forms, from many cultures and very often spanning many centuries.” The V&A fashion curator, Oriole Cullen commented that Guo Pei’s work is a demonstration of “what can be achieved by the skilled ateliers of a haute couture house”, further adding that she was “delighted to be working with Guo Pei… [and] her uniquely beautiful Alternate Universe collection.”
by Alicia Pountney
The presentation by Chinese couturier Guo Pei takes place in the Raphael Gallery on Friday 1 November
Tickets for the four free catwalk shows (Friday 1 November, 14.00, 17.00 & 20.00) will be available to book online via the V&A website from 10.00, Monday 21 October.