Friday, December 3, 2010

Chinese Couturier Guo Pei

Forget "your pretty of the day," this is your STUNNING of the day.

Beijing-based couturier Guo Pei has been getting a little bit of press lately and with good reason. Her designs are simply stunning. Forget our limited opinion-spewing; you need to get straight to the pics. These are from her latest collection, titled "The Arabian 1002nd Night."

Cathy Horyn of the New York Times profiled her the other day:

"Four years ago, she began making collections that were on a scale that equaled, and in some cases surpassed, the technical feats of Paris couture — skirts of fantastic dimension, molded into bell shapes, or cones that rippled like the surface of a shell. Some dresses are inspired by children’s clothes, and on adults the proportions look extreme, an effect she heightens with ridiculously high platform sandals."

"The clothes are also lavishly embellished. Next to her dresses, the most elaborate Paris stuff is a dim bulb — and growing weaker as European houses subtly cut back on handwork to meet rising labor costs. In China, it’s the reverse. Guo Pei says that when she went looking for people to do embroidery, in 1999, the only product in demand were the kind of slippers you’d find on Canal Street. Today she employs 300 people in a workroom two hours from Beijing. She had to train them, but it’s also true that her creative freedom is tethered to relatively cheap labor. One dress alone, made entirely of golden panels, took 50,000 hours to embroider."

"One can see in videos of her shows, which typically last 35 minutes and invoke Chinese fairy tales, the artistic yearnings of a woman — yearnings that until then had a limited outlet."

And is there a creature in all of creation as fierce as the legendary Carmen Dell’Orefice?

"Last November, for her third collection — held in the National Stadium at the Olympic Village before an audience of 2,600 people — Guo Pei flew the legendary model Carmen Dell’Orefice in from New York. Dell’Orefice was 78 when she agreed to wear a bejeweled sheath and an embroidered, fur-trimmed cape fit for a Ming empress, and heavy enough to require an escort by two men ‘‘and two boys in back pushing the train.’’ When asked about the experience, Dell’Orefice answered, ‘‘That’s like asking me how I would feel about Zeffirelli.’’

She explained a bit of her design choices to China Business Philippines Online:

"Exotic birds and flowers are an obvious inspiration. So is blue and white china, particularly in the finale. Not only are china patterns seen on the dress, but the porcelain motif is unrelenting from the headpiece decorated with the shape of a porcelain jar to the shoes that are in the shape of a, well, porcelain jar!

“Blue and white porcelain turns into a dress,” says Guo Pei. The twists and turns of the delicate fabric echo the curves of an elegant woman's body, which the designer says “represents the journey of her creation.”

"Guo Pei was influenced by the “30-inch-high heels that prevailed in southern Europe in the mid-16th century. And the 17th century, when shoe ties were specially designed as an ornament.”

It probably goes without saying that you should watch the video of the runway show. We can't say these clothes move beautifully, because they're pretty formidable, but the theatricality of it all is hypnotic.

Is it so wrong that we want to live in that world? Wouldn't it be great if, one day of the week, we all agreed to dress like this? Sure, it would be uncomfortable, and you can forget about anyone working on your car for you, but wouldn't all that beauty be worth it?

[Photo Credit: getty, - Video

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